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The devastation resulting from Hurricane Harvey’s landfall in Texas has New Jerseyans ready to help and show their support for the victims of the storm, but the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs has some advice for those looking to make donations: Beware of phony charities.
The Division is urging consumers to “Investigate Before You Donate,” and avoid fraudulent charitable solicitations, when seeking to donate for victims of Harvey, which has dumped unprecedented amounts of rain on the Gulf Coast of Texas.
“New Jersey residents are always willing to help out their neighbors when tragedy strikes, often by making donations to aid with recovery,” said Attorney General Christopher S. Porrino. “Sadly, there are always those scammers who look to take advantage of disaster for their own benefit.”
“Those looking to help should seek out reputable and legitimate charities,” said Steve Lee, Director of the Division of Consumer Affairs. “Residents should always take the necessary steps to make sure their money is actually going to help those in need.”
To help consumers discern which charities are legitimate and to protect against scammers, the Division offers the following tips:
Consumers may obtain information about a charity in several ways. They can ask the charity itself (reputable charities encourage you to do so), or visit the charity's website.
Consumers can also obtain this information from the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs. Visit the Division's Charities Registration page; call the Division's Charities Hotline at 973-504-6215 during regular business hours; or use the Division's free "New Jersey Charity Search" smartphone app.
Consumers are urged to report suspicious solicitations to their local police and to the Division of Consumer Affairs at 1-800-242-5846 (toll free within New Jersey) or 973-504- 6200. Consumers who believe they have been cheated or scammed by a business, or suspect any other form of consumer abuse, can file an online complaint with the State Division of Consumer Affairs by visiting its website or by calling one of the numbers referenced above.