AG Tong, DCP Commissioner Michelle H. Seagull Urge Charities and Donors to be on Alert for Bad Actors During This Year’s Charity Fraud Awareness WeekAttorney General William Tong and Consumer Protection Commissioner Michelle H. Seagull are urging Connecticut charities and donors to be on alert for bad actors as part of a nationwide campaign to identify and combat fraud in the charity sector.
As the charitable giving season ramps up ahead of the holidays, it is important for Connecticut charities and donors to protect themselves from fraudsters looking to take advantage of people’s generosity. With the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent economic crisis still affecting millions across the nation, charities and donors need to be especially vigilant about scams and fraud this year.
“Charities are sources of funds and a wealth of information that are sadly, very attractive to bad actors,” said Attorney General Tong. “It is crucial that charities and donors alike know the signs of fraud and take steps to protect themselves. Don’t click on unsolicited links or give your information or money to anyone you don’t trust. Always double check who you’re dealing with, whether it’s a new donor or non-profit. And remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”
“Many people are eager to give back as we head into the holiday season after a tough year affected by COVID-19,” said Commissioner Seagull. “We want to encourage people to remember charities in their giving plans this year, but also to do their research first and be on the lookout for scammers who may want to take advantage of those in the giving spirit. Remember to research the charity you’re considering, be hesitant if someone tries to pressure you into giving without providing information about the charity and always ask for proof of your donation.”
Protecting Your Charity:
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 current national and global crises, like the COVID-19 pandemic, to carry out fraud and cybercrime.
Here are some steps to follow to protect your charity from harm:
• Don’t click on links within unexpected or unsolicited emails and text messages.
• Always double check who 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.
Tips for Giving Safely This Year:
During this economic crisis, it’s important to make sure that you are donating to legitimate charities and organizations.
Here are some tips to make sure you are protecting yourself and your donation from fraud:
• 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 in order 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.
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/. Consumers can also report instances of fraud to The Department of Consumer Protection by emailing email@example.com or by visiting