You might have found yourself reaching out for help in a Facebook Group, and now you are receiving responses from complete strangers. Or perhaps while browsing through Telegram, you stumbled upon an offer that seemed incredibly beneficial at first glance. Online spaces often present opportunities that appear to be exactly what you need. However, it's important to remember that not everything online is as it appears.
Be vigilant when accepting online offers
While some of the offers may indeed be genuine, others could be illusions, offering a false sense of safety and security. They might ask for money upfront, promising a job or a home in return. They might offer to get you to a new place safely. But when something sounds too perfect, pause and think. Real opportunities don't involve secretive transactions or pressure. They're transparent and give you space to think and decide.
Accepting assistance online requires a balance of openness to help and vigilance against risks. By following some guidelines and listening to your intuition, you can navigate online offers more safely. Remember, taking the time to verify and research before accepting any assistance can make a significant difference in ensuring your safety. When in doubt, always ask for help from people and organisations you trust!
Apply safely for financial assistance online
Various forms of financial assistance, provided by governments and humanitarian organisations, are essential support for displaced individuals. These offers can be quite appealing, and the urge to apply quickly is understandable.
However, it's crucial to be aware of criminals who exploit these situations. They often craft scams disguised as 'humanitarian support' or 'quick cash solutions' and promote them on social media. These scams typically impersonate reputable organisations and promise substantial financial aid, like thousands of Euros. When you engage with these offers, they may prompt you to enter your banking details, pay a 'processing fee', or log into your internet banking portal. Unfortunately, if these criminals gain access to your bank account, they can swiftly deplete your funds, leaving you financially vulnerable.
Financial assistance from legitimate organisations is a structured process, with clear information and without requesting anything in exchange. Only approach recognised charities, NGOs, or government programs known for providing financial aid to refugees. Be clear about any conditions or requirements tied to the financial assistance, and ensure all transactions are conducted through official channels with proper documentation.
Safe search for accommodation online
Securing accommodation as a refugee can be a challenging task, especially when relying on online resources. While the internet can connect you with various housing options, it’s essential to navigate these offers with caution to ensure your safety and avoid potential scams and exploitations.
Be careful with offers from private individuals, shared or advertised on social media. Unfortunately, in times of crisis, there are homeowners who are trying to exploit refugees in exchange for a place to stay, and they often use online communities to get in touch with the victims.
Keep in mind that although no online platform can be considered 100% safe, designated accommodation search sites are safer compared to Facebook and similar social media sites. Be aware of warning signs that indicate that the offer is not legitimate or safe. If you encounter any of them, it’s best to decline the offer immediately.
Before meeting with hosts in-person, use Google Maps Street View to examine the property and its neighbourhood, which can reveal any discrepancies or warning signs not apparent in the listing. Share the accommodation link with friends or family for their input and to keep them informed, ensuring you have a point of contact in an emergency.
For a clearer picture of the accommodation and to gauge the host's trustworthiness, request a video call and ask for detailed images of the property and its surroundings. This step not only provides a realistic view of your potential living space but also helps in establishing a rapport with the host.
Be alert to the pricing; if it's markedly lower than similar local offerings, it might indicate a scam. Discuss payment methods with the host and be wary of requests for deposits via untraceable methods like Western Union or MoneyGram, as these are often used in scams.
Safe search for jobs online
As a displaced person, you might find yourself in a sudden need of financial support while being in an unfamiliar location. In these situations you become much more vulnerable to exploitations, especially when you have to interact with complete strangers in order to find and apply for jobs.
Just like with accommodation, it’s best to avoid job offers on Facebook, Telegram, and other social media platforms, and use official, trusted websites for your job search instead. These websites have safeguards in place to protect you from harmful employment offers.
You should always check the employer before applying. See if they are active and professional on social media, and look for reviews from other employees to get a sense of what it is like to work for the company. If you are unsure about the legitimacy of a job posting, consider seeking help from trusted organisations or locals.
Safe search for private transportation online
When you are forced to flee your home or move onwards to a new place, securing reliable and safe transportation is vital. Moving across borders and arriving in unfamiliar territories inherently carries risks, but with careful planning and vigilance, you can ensure your safety and avoid serious dangers like human trafficking.
It's important to remember that while offers of transportation from private individuals might appear convenient and cost-effective, they generally pose greater risks. Verifying the credibility of these individuals and ensuring they will take you to the agreed-upon destination can be challenging. As a result, it's advisable to avoid transportation offers from private individuals, especially those found on social media, and choose reliable companies instead.
Before finalising your travel plans, conduct thorough research on the service provider. Visit their website to verify official registrations or certifications and read reviews or testimonials from other users to gauge their credibility. It's important to protect your personal information during these interactions. Avoid sharing sensitive details such as your family status, financial situation, or personal hardships. Such information can make you vulnerable to exploitation.
Always inform someone you trust about your travel plans. This should include the details of the transportation service you're using, your itinerary, and your expected arrival time. In case of emergencies or unexpected situations, it’s crucial to have a contingency plan.
Keep a list of local emergency contacts handy during your travel. This list should include phone numbers of local authorities, support services, and perhaps the embassy or consulate, ensuring you have quick access to assistance if needed. By following these steps, you can better safeguard your journey and travel with greater peace of mind.