In the wake of Hurricane Maria, and with the end of the year approaching, the Department of Consumer Protection has some tips for people who want to give.
Go to the DCP’s website and check if the charity is registered. Find out the charity’s mission, make a phone call and ask the tough questions. Google the charity’s name, plus the word “scam,” and see if anything comes up.
And be careful if someone reaches out asking you to give.
“It is extraordinary how many times, especially older people, will end up giving somebody their social security number, their date of birth, their address when asked,” said Catherine Blinder, the DCP’s chief of education and outreach. “Someone who is an authentic charity will never ask you for that information. Don’t give emotionally.”
The DCP doesn’t necessarily tell you where to put your money. The goal is to inform and educate the public about what to watch out for.
“Give as locally as you can,” Blinder said. “It’s more likely that your money will go farther [and] they are probably hooked up with a large organization that has the infrastructure to provide services.”
Blinder said holidays are high time for charity scams. And if you are scammed, the department wants you to complain or they won’t be able to take action.