HARTFORD -- The Department of Consumer Protection is urging consumers to be aware of charity scams around the holidays. DCP said it has processed nearly 150 charity-related complaints in 2016, roughly tripling the number in 2015. The increase is largely because the department is proactively targeting unregistered charities and initiating more complaints based on its results.
DCP said scammers will try to deceive and pressure consumers. The department has released several tips to help consumers spot charity scams.
According to DCP, a scammer will:
- Refuse to give details about its identity, mission, costs or money allocation
- Provide no information about its tax deductible status
- Use a name similar to a well-known charity as a means of impersonation
- Thank you for a pledge you do not recollect making, and then ask for more money
- Pressure you to donate right away
- Ask for cash or wire transfer donations
- Offer to send a delivery service to immediately pick up the donation
- Promise a sweepstakes winning in exchange for your donation
Consumer Protection urges consumers to not engage with anyone who calls or goes door-to-door soliciting donations that seem like scams.
Consumers are encouraged to research a charity before making a donation by:
- Verifying the charity is appropriately registered here.
- Searching the charity's name online, coupled with the word "scam" or "complaint"
- Checking the company's reputation with the Better Business Bureau, Charity Watch, or Guidestar.
- Learning how the charity spends its money through Charity Navigator.
Consumer Protection encourages doing all research before making a decision.
"Do the homework," said DCP Commissioner Jonathan Harris. "They should come up with a giving plan. Figure out the types of charities they want to give to, the organizations they want to help. Do the research ahead of time." Harris said donations often times can never be recovered once they are sent to an illegitimate charity.
Consumers can file a charity complete with the Department of Consumer Protection by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Charities with questions about registering can email email@example.com.