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For Immediate Release:  
For Further Information Contact:
January 5, 2005

Office of The Attorney General
- Peter C. Harvey, Attorney General


Jeff Lamm
Genene Morris


In Wake of Indian Ocean Tsunami, Attorney General Harvey Cautions Residents Against Charities Fraud


NEWARK — Attorney General Peter C. Harvey is urging New Jersey residents who wish to make donations to aid victims of the Indian Ocean tsunami to take precautions in order to avoid becoming victims of charities fraud.

“New Jerseyans have responded with their usual compassion to the devastating Indian Ocean tsunami, with many giving generously to relief efforts,” Attorney General Harvey said. “While there are many excellent charitable organizations offering assistance to the victims, experience tells us that some con artists see such disasters as an opportunity to defraud others. We don’t want to discourage people from giving to this important cause. We just want them to exercise caution.”

The New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs’ Charities Registration Section enforces New Jersey’s Charitable Registration and Investigation Act and works to ensure that organizations are operating lawfully. To avoid becoming the victim of charities fraud, Attorney General Harvey asks residents to heed the following advice:

  • 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.
  • Check whether the organization is registered with Consumer Affairs’ Charities Registration Section or exempt from the registration requirements. You may confirm whether an organization is registered or exempt by calling the unit at 973-504-6215. You may also confirm registration online at
  • Find out how long the organization has been in operation and ask to see its financial reports. These reports, called 990s, are available by calling Consumer Affairs’ Charities Section. They reveal how much money the organization takes in each year, how much it spends on the causes it claims to represent and how much it pays toward administrative, management and professional fund-raising fees. General financial information about a registered charity is also available at
  • 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 concern.
  • 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 the tsunami relief efforts and how much will be used to pay the fundraiser.
  • Beware of unsolicited and phony e-mail 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 if you know the organization, call the group directly to find out if the e-mail notice is valid.
  • Never give your credit card number to strangers over the phone or Internet!

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