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Paula T. Dow,
Attorney General

Division of Consumer Affairs
Thomas R. Calcagni, Acting Director

   
For Immediate Release:
March 17, 2011
For Further Information Contact:
Jeff Lamm, 973-504-6327
Neal Buccino, 973-504-6327

NJ Division of Consumer Affairs Warns Against Fraudulent Charities in Wake of Japanese Disaster;
Offers Information in Japanese, Korean, Mandarin

NEWARK—The New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs today issued posters and flyers in Japanese and other Asian languages, with the important message "Before you Donate to Help Those Affected by the Disaster in Japan: Beware of Fraudulent Charities."

"New Jersey citizens of every ethnic background are watching the immense suffering in Japan, and they are moved to help in any way possible. At times like these, many legitimate charities begin seeking donations for relief efforts. Unfortunately, disasters also attract con artists who set up fraudulent charities that do nothing but fleece donors out of their money," Thomas R. Calcagni, Acting Director of the Division of Consumer Affairs, said. "Before you donate, investigate. We can help you determine whether a charity is legitimate, and how that charity has used its donations in the past."

The posters, available in Japanese, Korean, and Mandarin, as well as in English and Spanish, provide basic tips for consumers to learn about charities. Division of Consumer Affairs investigators this week will provide copies of the posters at Asian supermarkets and other locations as needed.

The posters are also available for download:

The documents include the following tips:

  • Give to charities you know and trust. Never give to a charity you know nothing about. Ask for literature and read it. Ask questions. Honest charities encourage you to do so.
  • Contact Consumer Affairs' Charities Hotline at 973-504-6215 or www.NJConsumerAffairs.gov/charity/chardir.htm to learn about specific charities. You can confirm whether a charity is registered or is exempt from registration requirements. You can also learn about the charity's most recently reported financial information, including how much the charity reported spending on programs, fundraising, and management expenses.
  • Don't be fooled by a convincing name. A dishonest charity will often have an impressive name or one that closely resembles the name of a respected, legitimate organization.
  • Don't succumb to pressure. Don't let yourself be pressured into giving, and don't feel you have to contribute on the spot. No legitimate organization will expect you to contribute immediately, even if you have given in the past.
  • Ask if the charity uses a professional fundraiser and, if so, what percentage of your contribution will actually go toward relief efforts and how much will be used to pay the fundraiser.
  • Beware of unsolicited and phony email notices that claim to be from a charity asking for your credit card information. This scam is called "phishing" and could be used by thieves to commit identity theft. If the charity is unfamiliar to you, check whether the group is registered with Consumer Affairs' Charities Section. If the organization is registered or you know the organization, call directly to find out if the email notice is valid.

Consumers who believe they have been cheated or scammed by a business, or suspect any other form of consumer abuse, can file a complaint with the State Division of Consumer Affairs by visiting its website, www.NJConsumerAffairs.gov, or by calling 1-800-242-5846 (toll free within New Jersey) or 973-504-6200.

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