Making the Internet a Safer Place: The American Red Cross and Public Interest Registry Partner to Curb Fraudulent Fundraisers

At Public Interest Registry, we are committed to making the Internet a safer place to empower mission-driven organizations to spread their missions online – and likewise give philanthropic-minded individuals the confidence they need to ensure online donations end up in the right hands.

This is particularly important in the context of fundraising in the wake of an emergency. In response to natural disasters, we often see a proliferation of individual, online fundraisers – the majority of which are well-intentioned and aim to help those most in need. Unfortunately, there are bad actors who take advantage of eager donors with the goal of redirecting the funds to themselves, instead of those actually in crisis.

As part of the world’s largest humanitarian organization, the American Red Cross can be a target for these bad actors. Fraudulent pages present as if they are officially affiliated with the Red Cross, directing donations to incorrect places, and putting money intended for this trusted organization in the wrong hands.

That’s where Public Interest Registry comes in.

We are excited to announce a first-of-its-kind partnership between the American Red Cross and PIR aimed at weeding out domain names that exploit the name and likeness of the Red Cross to deceive unsuspecting donors in the wake of natural disasters or humanitarian crises in the U.S. and around the world.

This partnership creates a “Trusted Notifier” relationship with the Red Cross – whereby the Red Cross will notify PIR of fraudulent activity occurring on PIR-operated domains. Then, PIR will investigate and hold confirmed fraudulent domains accountable for violating our Anti-Abuse Policy.

The Trusted Notifier relationship with PIR builds upon the years long online safety commitment of the American Red Cross to protect the public from fraud and scams.

Here at PIR, we always aim to create a cleaner and more trusted Internet. This partnership is a natural extension of our mission to empower changemakers, sniff out online abuse, and keep you safe. This work will build on our other formalized Trusted Notifier relationships – the Internet Watch Foundation to identify and stop child sexual abuse materials, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration relating to the illegal distribution of opioids and narcotics online. To be clear, this relationship is not intended to curb any speech, satire, or criticism of the Red Cross. Only domain names that are engaged in fraudulent activities will be referred as part of this program. Our process also ensures registrant due process by providing our registrants with an Anti-Abuse Appeals Process in order to challenge determinations PIR makes under our Anti-Abuse Policy.

PIR will be the very first registry operator to establish a Trusted Notifier relationship with a major international humanitarian organization like the American Red Cross – and we encourage other registry operators to also reach out to the Red Cross and consider establishing their own program to work together to make the Internet a safer place.

We hope that the next time you make a donation online, you feel more confident that it will end up in the right place. We are honored to facilitate a process of trusted giving to deserving organizations like the Red Cross.


Jon Nevett
President & CEO of Public Interest Registry