Attorney General William Tong and Department of Consumer Protection Commissioner Michelle Seagull are urging Connecticut charities and donors to be on alert for bad actors and scams during this year’s International Charity Fraud Awareness Week, a global campaign to prevent and fight fraud in the charity sector.
All charities, NGOs and not-for-profits are susceptible to fraud and can be easily targeted by bad actors looking to take advantage of them. Those providing services and supporting local communities may be especially vulnerable to fraudsters attempting to exploit recent crises such as the war in Ukraine and Hurricanes Fiona and Ian to carry out fraud and cybercrime. Donors looking to give charitably this season are also targets for bad actors who prey upon their generosity by creating fraudulent charities.
“As we approach the holiday season and the prime time for charitable giving, it’s important to be on alert for bad actors and scammers looking to not only swindle generous people out of their money, but also prevent people in need from getting the support they deserve,” Attorney General Tong said. “While there are many good-hearted people who want to help others in their time of need, there are also scammers lurking to take advantage of the situation. Be sure to do your homework and check whom you’re dealing with. Don’t give in to high pressure tactics. And remember: if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”
“As we enter the holiday season, when charitable giving is at its peak, we remind everyone to use caution and do their research as they consider where to direct their donations this year,” said DCP Commissioner Michelle H. Seagull. “We don’t want to discourage anyone from being generous. Our goal is to empower consumers and charitable organizations alike to make wise choices and avoid becoming the victim of a scam.”
Tips for Giving Safely This Year:
Here are some tips to protect yourself from fraud and ensure you are donating to legitimate charities and organizations:
• Do your homework. Before making a charitable donation, make sure you know who you are dealing with and what your donation will be used for. The Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance, Charity Navigator, or Guidestar are good resources for verifying a charity is legitimate.
• Charities soliciting in Connecticut must be registered with the Department of Consumer Protection. You can verify a registration by visiting elicense.ct.gov.
• Don’t be pressured. Do not donate if the solicitor uses high-pressure tactics, asks for payment in cash or insists on sending someone to pick up your donation
• Be careful when giving out your personal information or credentials. Sometimes donors are required to make an account with their personal information to give to a charity. Those accounts can be compromised, and your information can be stolen.
• Keep records of your donations. If you donate by credit card, check your statements closely to make sure you’re charged only for what you agreed to donate.
Protecting Your Charity:
If you run a charity or non-profit organization, it is important that you protect yourself from fraud. Now more than ever, charities need to be fraud aware and take steps to protect their assets, donations, and information from bad actors.
• Don’t click on links within unexpected or unsolicited emails and text messages.
• Always double check whom you’re working with. Criminals are experts at impersonating people and businesses.
• Thoroughly vet unsolicited offers of ‘free help’ or financial support where an advanced fee payment is required.
• Regularly check your charity’s bank statements to spot unusual or suspicious activity.
Connecticut residents may report charity related fraud by contacting the Office of the Attorney General via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 860-808-5318. Complaints can be filed at https://www.dir.ct.gov/ag/complaint/.
For more information on charity fraud prevention, visit www.preventcharityfraud.com.
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