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FRANKFORT – As Kentuckians open their hearts and pocketbooks to support disaster relief efforts in Japan, Attorney General Conway cautions consumers that scammers may try to prey on their generosity.
Fraudulent charitable solicitations can come through emails, social networking sites or even direct calls. General Conway asks that consumers choose carefully when considering urgent appeals for aid.
"My heart goes out to the victims of Japan’s devastating earthquake and tsunami,” General Conway said. “Because there are so many people hurting as a result of this disaster, it is vital that charitable contributions reach those in need and aren’t used to line the pockets of unscrupulous scam artists.”
Before making a charitable contribution, General Conway recommends following these tips:
• Donate to recognized charities that you have given to before.
• Avoid responding to unsolicited incoming emails, including clicking links contained within those messages as they could contain viruses.
Be skeptical of individuals representing themselves as surviving victims.
•Remember that charitable solicitors take a portion of the proceeds to cover their costs, which leaves less for victim assistance.
•Utilize online resources to research charities before making a donation.
• Avoid giving or sending cash. For security and tax record purposes, contribute by check or credit card and write the official name of the charity on your check.
Never give your personal or financial information to anyone who solicits contributions.
For more information about how you can help disaster victims in Japan, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recommends visiting the U.S. Agency for International Development website at http://www.usaid.gov/ .
Consumers can also research charities through the Attorney General’s website at www.ag.ky.gov . If you believe you have been the victim of a scam or if you would like to file a consumer complaint, call the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Hotline at 1-888-432-9257 or visit http://ag.ky.gov/consumers.htm .