Want to send help to Ukraine? CT officials have tips for avoiding scams

As Russia’s invasion of Ukraine left thousands dead and nearly two million displaced, Connecticut officials are offering advice on how residents of the state can provide aid without being victims of scams.

Several leading aid organizations including the International Committee of the Red Cross, Save The Children, UNICEF and Americares are accepting donations or offering ways to help. But state officials are urging caution around lesser-known organizations, as well as people claiming to provide aid via social media or over the phone.

“Families in Connecticut watching this tragedy unfold want to help. This is precisely the kind of crisis that scammers seek to exploit for personal gain. Don’t let them,” state Attorney General William Tong said Monday in a joint statement with the Department of Consumer Protection. “Take your time, research the charity or effort you want to support. Don’t let scammers prey on your heartache and generosity.

DCP commissioner Michelle Seagull said the crisis was a “first opportunity” for scammers.

“Anyone who uses high-pressure tactics or insists you donate immediately via a gift card or cryptocurrency is likely a scammer,” Seagull said in a statement. “Do your research and make sure the money you donate will actually be used as you intended.”

The warnings come as the conflict, now in its second week, has left more than 9,000 dead and 1.7 million displaced, according to Reuters estimates.

Connecticut leaders and the delegation of state lawmakers in Washington condemned the Russian invasion. Last week, the governor’s office and state treasurer announced they were reviewing the state’s ties to Russia amid widespread US sanctions against the country. The state is cutting state pension fund investments in Russian companies and Kremlin-backed debt.

The Attorney General’s Office and the DCP have offered the following tips for Connecticut residents to avoid scams when sending money or other aid to Ukraine.

Do your homework: Agencies said residents should take the time to research an organization they intend to donate to online. This may include reviewing the organization’s website and researching the charity on charity watchdogs. “Charities soliciting in Connecticut must be registered with the Department of Consumer Protection,” the joint statement said. This can be verified by searching for the organization in the state license search tool.

Crowdfunding, social media fundraising appeals: Any appeal for help made via social media should be reviewed against the platform’s policies on fees and fund distribution. “Most crowdfunding sites do very little verification of individuals or organizations, so it’s generally safer to give to someone you personally know or trust,” state agencies said. . The Federal Trade Commission has more social media fundraising tips on its website.

Don’t be forced to give information over the phone: Legitimate charities won’t push you to donate right away, the agencies said, and residents should be on the lookout for scammers demanding personal information such as social security numbers, banking information. card numbers, passwords or other banking information. “Contact a charity using a website you know is trustworthy or find their phone number and call them directly,” the joint statement read. If you choose to donate, it is safer to do so using a credit card or check rather than cash.

Tax-deductible donations: if you make a donation, you want to deduct it later from your taxes. Verify that the organization is tax-exempt through researching the IRS on its website.

Report Suspected Scams: Residents can report suspected fraudulent scams through the Attorney General’s Office or the DCP. To report it to the Attorney General’s office, email [email protected] or call 860-808-5318. To contact the DCP, email [email protected] or visit the agency’s website.

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