Attorney General Tong, DCP Commissioner Seagull Urge Charities and Donors to be on Alert for Bad Actors During This Year’s International Charity Fraud Awareness Week
(Hartford, CT) — Attorney General William Tong and Department of Consumer Protection Commission Michelle Seagull are urging Connecticut charities and donors to be on alert for bad actors during this year’s International Charity Fraud Awareness Week, a global campaign to prevent and fight 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.
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, natural disasters, and widespread economic hardship, 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 head into the holiday season and the prime time for charitable giving, it’s important for both charities and donors to be on alert for bad actors and scammers looking to swindle generous people out of their money,” Attorney General Tong said. “The last two years have seen unprecedented hardships including the COVID-19 pandemic, high unemployment, and devastating floods, fires and hurricanes. While there are many good-hearted people who want to help, there are also scammers looking 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.”
“For donors and charities alike, there are always people looking to take advantage of their good nature,” DCP Commissioner Michelle H. Seagull said. “Don’t be discouraged from giving this year, but do make sure you’re taking steps to guarantee your donations are used for what you intended. Do your research, be wary of unsolicited emails or texts for donations, and make sure any charity soliciting donations from you in the state of Connecticut is registered with the Department of Consumer Protection.”
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 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 protect yourself 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 www.ct.gov/DCP/complaints.
For more information on charity fraud prevention, visit www.preventcharityfraud.com.