STATE OFFICIALS URGE CONSUMERS TO BE CAUTIOUS WHILE GIVING THIS HOLIDAY SEASON
The Departments of Consumer Protection (DCP) and Banking (DOB) with Attorney General William Tong and the Better Business Bureau Serving Connecticut are urging Connecticut families to give cautiously this holiday season.
More families donate during the holiday season than any other time of year, and scammers consistently take advantage of the generosity of donors here in Connecticut.
If you plan to donate to charity this holiday season, follow these tips:
- Verify the charity’s registration: All charities soliciting in the State of Connecticut must be registered with DCP. Visit elicense.ct.gov to verify a registration.
- Do your research: It can be tempting to give on the spot, but, always make sure that you research a charity before you donate. Use resources like the BBB Wise Giving Alliance (Give.org), Charity Navigator (CharityNavigator.org), and GuideStar (GuideStar.org) to look up more detailed information about a charity.
- Make a budget: Make an annual giving budget to ensure that you’re giving to charities that you have researched, and trust.
- Don’t give in to pressure tactics: If someone soliciting funds for a charity says you can only make a difference if you give immediately, don’t fall for it. Any legitimate organization will give you time to consider donating.
- Donate securely: Never wire money or donate in cash. Always donate in a traceable form of payment. If you donate online, double check the url to ensure you’re on the page you intend to be on, and that you see the “s” in https:// so you know you’re on a secure webpage.
“Scammers are always looking for ways to take advantage of our good nature,” said Consumer Protection Commissioner Michelle H. Seagull, “We ask consumers to always be cautious, and make a budget based on their research and priorities. We want families to have an enjoyable holiday season free of spending time worrying about losing money to fraud. If anyone feels they have fallen victim to a charity scam, we encourage them to contact DCP.”
"I can't stress enough the importance of knowing who you are giving to," said Banking Commissioner Jorge Perez. "Scammers will use high pressure tactics to obtain your personal financial information. Don't give in. Take the time to do your research so you feel comfortable your donation is going to the causes you care about."
"From impersonating charities, to scamming donors, and stealing personal data, the holiday season is one of the most dangerous times of the year for consumers. Scammers rely on consumers to use their hearts and not their heads when donating to a cause or charity. It's imperative that we arm consumers with the information needed for them to donate wisely so they can avoid falling victim to charity scams. Those who have been scammed should contact the Office of the Attorney General's Consumer Assistance Unit for help," said Attorney General Tong.
“BBB Serving Connecticut always wants to make sure that if you participate in Giving Tuesday that you are giving to a reputable charity. Give.org is a part of the BBB Wise Giving Alliance and is a great tool for consumers to use in order to vet larger charities and make sure they are trustworthy. BBB also wants to remind consumers who are unable to give monetary donations that donating your “time” is also crucial for many local charities in Connecticut. Spend the day contacting local charities to schedule a time to volunteer if a monetary donation isn’t in your budget,” said BBB Serving Connecticut Spokesperson Luke Frey.
If you believe you’ve fallen victim to a charity scam, or want to report any suspicious activity, please file a complaint with DCP by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by visiting ct.gov/dcp/complaint. You may also contact the Office of the Attorney General at (860) 808-5318, or www.dir.ct.gov/ag/complaint.
If you are concerned your financial information was compromised please contact your financial institution immediately. If you wish to file a complaint or report a scam, please contact the Department of Banking at 1-800-832-7225 or email@example.com or visit ct.gov/dob.
Anyone who notices a scam, or has fallen victim to a scam is also encouraged to report it to the Better Business Bureau’s Scam Tracker.