Department of Consumer Protection urges businesses to research solicitors

HARTFORD — Friday, December 7th, 2018 – During the holiday season, families and businesses often give back to their communities by making donations to charities. One way that businesses can help is by partnering with charities, and allowing them to solicit on their property during this busy shopping season.

The Department of Consumer Protection (DCP) is urging businesses to research organizations who ask to solicit on their property. Often times, consumers have little or no idea if a charity asking for money outside of a mall, department store, or grocery store is legitimate.

“It’s always inspiring that during such a busy season, so many families give back out of the goodness of their hearts,” said Consumer Protection Commissioner Michelle H. Seagull, “Unfortunately, scammers take advantage of that good nature, and often times we see people outside stores impersonating charities. We want to make sure that consumers and businesses do everything they can to stay protected from fraud during the holidays.”

If you’re a retailer, here are some things you can do before you decide to partner with a charity:

  • Verify that the charity is registered with DCP by visiting http://www.elicense.ct.gov and clicking on “Lookup a License” at the bottom of the page. All charities soliciting in the state must be registered.
  • Ask for a copy of the charity’s registration to keep on file.
  • Ask questions about the charity’s upcoming projects, what they’ve worked on in the past, and how they spend the money they raise..
  • Visit websites that can help you get more background on the charity such as The Better Business Bureau (www.give.org), Charity Navigator (www.charitynav.org), and Guide Star (www.guidestar.org). Guide Star should also include up to date financial information.
  • Do a quick search of the organization’s name, and the words “fraud”, or “scam” to figure out if the organization has had issues in the past, or is an outright sham.

Anyone who has complaints or questions about charities in Connecticut may email dcp.charitiesenforcement@ct.gov.