1. Do NOT donate money or pay for services to websites just because they have a slick website and cute Christian messages. If the website does not give clear contact information that you can confirm independently do not give them money. Read the website! Yesterday I spent quite a bit of time trying to figure out why a reputable sounding Christian women's organization had two Facebook sites (one without any contact or organizational information at all). When I finally unearthed a web-site address it had all the slick graphics of the two nearly identical Facebook pages, no location information, no information on principals, no explaining what donations might be used for. No such organization is a tax-exempt organization filed with the IRS nor on web-sites that report on charitable organizations. I emailed the only contact information on the website for financial, sponsor and IRS status information; I'm still waiting for a response. The only connection I could make was someone who appeared to be a young woman in another country trying to sell some very short and simplistic written work. Is she a naive dupe or a fake identify created in an elaborate system to solicit for crooks or jihadists! My suspicions are aroused because after two of my FB friends liked the site it suddenly showed up on my Facebook account as having been "liked" by me which I guarantee it was NOT.
2. If you have a Facebook account check on it regularly. Way too many people can hack in and post stuff to your wall which is then sent to anybody following your FB page. One of my son's account was hacked and some incredibly lewd and rude stuff was posted you probably don't want your Dad or Aunt or Granddaughter to see!
3. When you must sign financial information like tax forms and banking documents or get statements from a financial institution READ them and please do it promptly. Under the law you have a limited time to notify credit card companies of false charges or for banks, insurance companies, brokerage firms and the like to fix problems if you are missing money from your accounts. I know some of their correspondence makes the federal government look like 3rd grade math but keep asking questions. Start an envelope to keep all your charge slips and copies of invoices for merchandise purchased on line until you have check them off your statement and contact the credit card company if you can't identify a charge. They will help you get contact information and if it is a false charge they will help you get credit. Several slick folks through phony rebate checks and "add on" monthly fees have managed to land on my statement when I did pay enough attention. But I not only went after the money, I notified the attorney general's office in my state. Far too little cyber theft if prosecuted and fake sights to not do good things with your money. They also can use the sight to troll for data to steal your identify. If you are too frustrated to be wary and alert, stick to the store in the mall or sights that a trusted family member or adviser confirm are real and safe.
4. Even if they offer a million dollars or tell you a family member is in jail or trapped overseas DO NOT GIVE ANY MONEY, ACCOUNT INFORMATION, PERSONAL INFORMATION LIKE SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBERS, DATES OF BIRTH OR ANCESTOR NAMES TO ANYONE WHO CONTACTS YOU!!!! Really, I can not emphasize this enough. This is how people get scammed, robbed and financially abused EVERY DAY. Do not even click on emails that are from someone you don't know, but also don't open them if the name is familiar but the email address is wrong. People steel names out of address books with impunity because I get phony emails ALL THE TIME even though I am aggressively careful about who I give my email address to. If it claims it is from a familiar company still don't open it because phony look-alike addresses are common. Don't ever do anything in a hurry because that is a common ploy to get you to act before you think. If a phone call is not from some you know hang up the minute you hear a pitch to buy something, give you something for free or ask for money. This is no time to be "polite" and tell them you need to hang up. Just hang up.
5, If a family member or friend is helping you with your bills or investments ask another family member or trusted friend to go over the statements with you every month. If this makes the person who is helping angry suggest they switch roles for a while. After all, if your helper gets sick and you are upset it is smart to have someone else already up-to-speed. And you may just help keep temptation from calling the name of someone you love.
OK, sorry for the rant, but truly things are getting harder and more complex every day. The problems of web-based financial abuse are too big and complex for local police departments and apparently too unimportant to companies and government officials to pay much heed. The internet makes many things seem easy until you try to unwind identify theft or have to file charges against a loved one who is spiraling out of control with money stolen from YOU (and those you might actually want to help).
Be safe out there!