HARTFORD – The state Department of Consumer Protection issued guidelines Wednesday on how to protect consumers against charity scams in the wake of Hurricane Dorian.
Following the tragic aftermath of Hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas, and as it closes in on the Southeastern part of the United States, the Department of Consumer Protection (DCP) is advising consumers and families who want to contribute to relief efforts to avoid charity scams.
“Scammers prey on consumers and their families when they are most vulnerable, and at times of great urgency,” said Consumer Protection Commissioner Michelle H. Seagull, “As Connecticut families do what they can to support those affected by Hurricane Dorian, we encourage them to do their homework, and make sure their money is going to a legitimate charity that can best support survivors.”
What you should do if you want to give:
- Research the charities you’re considering giving to. Use resources from organizations like Charity Navigator (https://www.charitynavigator.org/), the Better Business Bureau (http://www.give.org/), and Guide Star (https://www.guidestar.org/) to get additional information about an organization as opposed to only visiting their website.
- Verify that a charity is properly registered with DCP by visiting https://www.elicense.ct.gov/.
- Ask questions to any representative you speak to if you want to learn more about a charity, and never feel pressured to give on the spot if you get a solicitation.
- Include charity donations in a giving plan so that you can adjust your other expenses if necessary.
Know the signs of a scam. Scammers will:
- Pressure you to give immediately without giving you time to do sufficient research.
- Not be able to answer your questions, or will not direct you to a place where you can find answers.
- Tug at your heartstrings, and make an extremely emotional appeal to get you to give immediately.
- Offer an incentive for your donation that sounds too good to be true.
- Ask you to give money via wire transfer, prepaid card, or other type of untraceable payment.
Those who think they are a victim of a charity scam should file complaints with DCP by emailing email@example.com.
If you’re planning to start a charity in Connecticut, visit our “Publications” page and download “Starting a Charitable Organization in Connecticut,” to understand what rules you need to follow. (https://portal.ct.gov/-/media/DCP/%20charities/CHARITIES_GUIDE_2018)