NEWARK – Attorney General Paula T. Dow today reminded residents to remain cautious of potential scams if they receive donation requests to aid victims of this weekend’s earthquake in Chile.
Following past disasters, con artists have preyed upon the public’s generosity and compassion to defraud donors and enrich themselves.
“Disasters such as the one in Chile bring out the best in people, as we seek to help those in their time of need. But for the con artist, this tragedy is just another means to defraud the public. Donors need to be wary about potential scams,” Attorney General Dow said.
Most charitable organizations soliciting donations and contributions in New Jersey are required to register with the Charities Registration Unit within the Division of Consumer Affairs. Charities that raise less than $10,000 annually or are run by religious or educational institutions are exempt from having to register.
Residents can check on whether an organization is registered by going to the Consumer Affairs web site, http://njconsumeraffairs.gov/ocp/charities.htm , or by calling the Charities Registration Unit at 973-504-6215.
Potential donors are advised to:
• Decline to respond to any unsolicited e-mails seeking a donation and to any links contained within these emails;
• Decline to give your personal identification or financial information to anyone who solicits contributions;
• Be skeptical of individuals representing themselves as surviving victims or officials asking for donations via e- mail or social networking sites; and
• Make contributions directly to known charitable organizations rather than relying on others to make the donation on your behalf.