During recent months, there have been an increasing number of phone, text, social media and email scams. Be aware of scams that fraudulently use the Lions Clubs International (LCI) or Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF) name or logo, or other trusted and well-known names. The goal of these types of scams is to trick people into revealing personal and financial information about themselves, which can then be used to commit identity theft.
If you receive a suspicious email, text, check or social media message, please follow these guidelines:
- Do not reply, open any attachments or click on any links in the message.
- Be wary of any offer to accept a check or money order in an amount greater than you are owed or requests to return money back to the check sender.
- Do not immediately cash an unexpected or surprise check. Unless you are expecting a check, and you are absolutely certain it is meant for you, do not deposit it.
- Do not pay upfront for a promise like a grant, debt relief or financial assistance.
Please delete the suspicious message and do not respond. If you wish, you may report this to local authorities in your jurisdiction for further investigation. Examples include:
- Texts and Facebook notices that you have received a grant, but first need to provide personal data.
- Unexpected checks from Lions and/or LCIF that look legitimate, including correct routing numbers.
- Emails or messages from individuals you know saying they are in distress and need you to send money.
- Phone calls from perpetrators posing as Lions or staff, asking for donations via phone.
Unfortunately, if you lose money in a scam, notify your bank immediately and see if they can help.
- If someone contacts you via phone, text, social media or email, no matter how legitimate he or she may seem, never give out personal information such as: passwords, Social Security numbers or national ID, credit card or bank account numbers, driver’s license or passport numbers.
- As a general practice when receiving unsolicited emails, do not follow embedded links in emails, especially if there is any mention of updating credit card information, personal data, PIN numbers or passwords. Delete these emails immediately.
- If you should be redirected to a website, verify that the URL address begins with “https://.” The single letter “S” after “http” indicates that it is a secure site, and is likely legitimate. If the URL is not secure, close your browser immediately.
- If contacted by another club member or the association headquarters via email, mobile text message or social media, and there is a request for financial assistance, wire transfer, etc. do not reply to the message. Contact the club member or association staff separately via email, phone or through the MyLCI Communications Center to validate that the request is legitimate.
- Always use virus protection software on your PC or MAC.
- Exercise caution when using public Wi-Fi systems in a coffee house, restaurant or internet café. These public systems offer no protection from unauthorized fraudulent monitoring.
- Create strong passwords for your email, social media and other online accounts, and update your passwords often.
- Never store passwords, banking information or credit card numbers in your email.
- If you receive an unexpected check, do not deposit it but instead contact the source of the funds to confirm you were to receive the funds.
- If a person you don’t know personally asks you to wire money on behalf of LCI or LCIF, contact the help desk.
Bill Hatzos is the senior marketing specialist for Lions Clubs International Foundation.