From Houston to Corpus Christi, the effects of Hurricane Harvey were felt over the weekend. Hurricane Harvey has become the first major hurricane to hit the United States since Hurricane Wilma in 2005. Houston recorded record levels of rain as a result of the storm. Homeless shelters are expecting an estimated 30,000 people. Needless to say, the pictures of the damage are heartbreaking. Like every disaster, people feel the need to unite and take action. It’s incredibly understandable if you would like to donate to the victims of the hurricane, or help in any sort of way. Many sources has said that the best way to help, for those outside of Texas, is to give cash. While giving money is an effective way of lending aid to those in need, there are always a group of people who are willing to take advantage of a person’s compassion.
At Nerds Support, we have recently learned that there are fraudulent emails going around from hackers looking to capitalize off hurricane Harvey. Because it is common knowledge that most cyberattacks happen through email, our IT support experts would like to remind you to keep data protection in mind as you read your inboxes in these next few weeks.
Signs of a Potential Cyberattack
Earlier this week, the Department of Homeland Security issued a statement regarding awareness of Hurricane Harvey cyberattacks. You are allowed to view the link here, but our Miami IT support experts have left a list of the most important ways to keep your data protected from email cyberattacks.
- Do not follow unsolicited web links in email messages.
- You should do a web search to make sure the links in your email are real.
- Use caution when opening email attachments.
- Refer to the Using Caution with Email Attachments page for more information on safely handling email attachments.
- Keep antivirus and other computer software up-to- date.
- Refer to the Avoiding Social Engineering and Phishing Attacks page for more information on social engineering attacks.
- Review the Federal Trade Commission information on Charity Scams.
- Verify the legitimacy of any email solicitation by contacting the organization directly through a trusted contact number. You can find trusted contact information for many charities on the BBB National Charity Report Index.
Finally, if you believe you may become the victim of a cyberattack, you are urged to seek out a data protection plan right away.
How to REALLY Help
Despite those out there looking to donate to their own “charities”, there are still a lot of great, verified organizations that will need your help in the next few weeks.
- Catholic Charities USA, the official domestic relief agency of the US Catholic Church, is taking donations to provide support for Harvey victims. They are accepting donations through text and through a webpage they created. You can access the page and find more information here.
- Feeding Texas, the Texas chapter for Feeding America, a network of the state’s food banks, is accepting donations here. Like its parent foundation, Feeding Texas uses their network of food banks to feed the hungry. You can also find a list of food bank locations that might need help here.
- The Texas Diaper Bank is seeking donations to provide diapers to families that have been displaced due to Hurricane Harvey. The bank has set up an Amazon wishlist for donors who would like to buy diapers for the diaper bank. The bank has also set up an FAQ highlighting the many ways you can donate . You can find both of these on the organization’s facebook page.
- The Houston Coalition for the Homeless, which helps coordinate shelters and outreach for the city’s vulnerable homeless population, has a paged dedicated to shelters in heavily affected areas. To find out how you can help, click here.
- Portlight is a local organization that offers relief to the disabled and older adults, has released an announcement asking for support. You can read the announcement, along with information on how to help, here.
- GlobalGiving, a crowdfunding site, has launched a hurricane relief fund aimed at gathering funds for local nonprofits in the storm-stricken region. You can visit the page, and donate, right here.
- Heart To Heart International is currently giving out hygiene kits to displaced families and need more donations in order to get more kits. The organization is also giving out water and minor medical care. To donate, click here.
- Austin Pets Alive! has many stray pets that have lost their owners, to find out how you can help click here.
There are many great verified charities out there that are motivated to give to victims of Hurricane Harvey. At Nerds Support, our Miami IT consulting team would like to remind you to do the following before you donate to any type of charity.
- Verify the charity – Conduct an online research on the charity that is reaching out to you. Make sure they have a website and are active on social media.
- Stay away from suspicious links – before you click a link, run an online search on the link name. (i.e. A link like saveharveyvictims.com/donate would require an online search).
- Make Sure Your Data is Safe – 37% of cyberattacks can be avoided if the computer user stays careful. Only open emails from people you know and immediately delete emails from strangers.