June 13, 2024
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June 13, 2024
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Protecting Donations While Giving Charity to Support Israel

Many of us have recently encountered “pop-up” charities through various channels. These organizations often have direct ties to crucial causes or brave IDF soldiers on the front lines. However, I am concerned about some recent personal and professional client interactions. For the most part, this column is about real-time encounters in the field and/or emerging technologies that present risks to our users. There are concerns regarding the risk of cyber attacks on donors, fake postings, and calls and emails for various charities for Israel and the IDF that may not be real.

Amy Glazer, chief advancement officer of Jewish Federation, shared our concern and expressed the following: “Everyone wants to help, and there are many people and organizations working for different causes. It is important for contributors to confirm that they are sending gifts to legitimate organizations. This can be done easily by checking an organization’s website and only donating through verified sites.”

My wife, who has experience and a deep understanding of charities in Israel, helped me weigh in on this concern and questioned the safety of this wide array of charity initiatives hosted on unknown platforms, or requests for funds sent from unfamiliar people or institutions. Eagerness to help might inadvertently lead people to share personal data or credit card information with unprepared organizers or worse. I witnessed a high schooler posting a Venmo QR code donation request, “Send donations to my Venmo,” endorsed by a respected person. While their intentions were exceedingly pure, the potential risks of ransomware attacks unknown to these wonderful, well-intended young people are real. Generally speaking, people should not be sharing their personal information like Venmo or Zelle account information in public forums, either in person or online.

My team has been discussing the unfortunate reality of malicious actors exploiting the generosity of well-meaning individuals during a vulnerable time for all Jews worldwide, as we all want to help. We remain on high alert, ready to assist, and hope the schemes we have heard about don’t become widespread. Ransomware, which we have discussed previously in this column, could be used by perpetrators to fight friends of Israel. Our enemy collecting, posing as Jewish charities, have not been verified but is of great concern. We have only heard rumors of these attacks at the time of this writing.

Before composing this column, I consulted with my editors about sharing our experiences following a ransomware attack and the challenging financial aftermath. At the office we have become a comforting voice, guiding victims through steps with financial institutions and authorities. Unfortunately, many perpetrators evade punishment, and victims face a lengthy recovery process. As we are on high alert anyway, how much more heartbreaking would it be to have your charity stolen by something as simple as a misclick or unread warnings?

I always remind clients, including my college-aged children, that hackers continually seek vulnerabilities to exploit as we go about our daily lives. In today’s digital age, payment security takes precedence. Before trusting an app or platform, conducting thorough research into its user reviews, and seeking trust indicators and security badges from credible sources is essential.

Diligence in this regard is key to ensuring the safety of personal and financial data.

While accepting donations from well-intentioned individuals is heartwarming, particularly when supporting significant causes like the IDF, transparency and compliance with financial regulations in recording all contributions are essential. But more so, the donor may fall victim to a cyber attack because our hearts and minds want to help the State of Israel and the IDF.

We offer our best to help verify reputable donations or flagged sites. This verification may be arduous, but we want to help. The Garb Cloud Consulting Group in Israel and the U.S. offices will always be committed to our support of Israel and the IDF.

One example of a small business that is known to me and is doing everything right is Cafe-482 Pop-Up Bakery. It is run by my friend Adam Gussen of Teaneck, a great baker. This bakery has the bonus of donating its profits to Magen David Adom while it works to help Israel through this difficult time. During a recent transaction, Gussen insisted on using a verified app/website to take payments, emphasizing the importance of understanding the control of funds and the importance he ascribed to protecting his customers’ private information. This dedication extends to his chosen charity.

Gussen’s’s diligence became clearer when I picked up challah from him on Friday. His vibrant personality provided a brief respite from the ongoing events in Israel as he generously offered samples of kugels and kind words. At the same time, he passionately discussed the various charities he is working with to help Israelis. People like Gussen, deeply committed to supporting causes in Israel, deserve admiration.

From us at Garb Consulting Group, we implore you to do your due diligence to ensure your money is being used wisely. We encourage you to only send money to people or organizations you know. From large organizations buying equipment for the State of Israel or friends bringing essentials to bases, ensure you know where your money goes and that it’s used wisely. Do not join WhatsApp groups you find without knowing who is in them, and be very careful where you share your personal information. Please ensure your and Israel’s safety online while the IDF ensures its safety off the web.

Finally, we want to take an extra second to thank the IDF, including several of our best and brightest past interns and employees who have put their lives on hold to defend the people of Israel. Am Yisrael Chai!


Shneur Garb is the founder and CEO of The Garb Cloud Consulting Group. Mendy Garb is the COO and resides and manages the Israel Herzliya office. For questions and verification of charitable sites depicted in this column email Shneur @garbcg.com.

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