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In the Aftermath of Hurricane Harvey and Preparing for Irma, Governor and Department of Professional and Financial Regulation Encourage Generosity, But Warn Against Scams


September 7, 2017



Governor Paul R. LePage and Commissioner Anne Head from the Department of Professional and Financial Regulation (DPFR) are encouraging Mainers to remain generous and helpful to people impacted by natural disasters, while being vigilant against charitable scams, which frequently crop up in the aftermath of hurricanes and other tragedies. Donors are encouraged to research charitable organizations before making a contribution.

Mainers are very generous and known for lending a hand to those in need, Governor LePage said. Because many families support charities following natural disasters, its important to be mindful that criminals are active in taking advantage of the kindness of others.

Many charitable organizations are required to be licensed with DPFRs Office of Professional and Occupational Regulation, which collects information about charitable activity in Maine and makes it available to the public. A quick check with the Department can provide information to help in determining whether a charity is legitimate or a scam.

Charitable scams arent new, but they increase following natural disasters and other tragedies, Commissioner Head said. Guidance and resources are available to assist the public in making sure contributions are going to legitimate charities.

Commissioner Head advises individuals to ask questions and seek printed information about unknown charities; to confirm their legitimacy with licensing officials; to never send cash or wire money when requested to do so; to always keep receipts of donations; and to report concerns or complaints about questionable solicitations with the Department and law enforcement.

Information about charities can be obtained through the Departments website (www.maine.gov/pfr), specifically at www.maine.gov/pfr/professionallicensing/professions/charitable. Links allow for the search of licensed charitable organizations, as well as disciplinary actions. Questions and complaints can also be made by calling the Charitable Solicitations Program at 207-624-8624.

Additional tips and advice accompany this news release and can also be obtained from the Federal Trade Commission (www.ftc.gov/charityfraud) and the Better Business Bureaus Wise Giving Alliance website www.give.org.

The Department of Professional and Financial Regulation protects the citizens of Maine and supports the economy through the oversight of State-chartered financial institutions, the insurance industry, grantors of consumer credit, the securities industry, and numerous professions providing services to the public. More information is available at www.maine.gov/pfr.


Tips and Advice When Considering Charitable Giving September, 2017

-- Always research unknown charities before contributing.

-- Not all organizations with names that sound like charities are actually charities. Some organizations select names that are similar to those of well-known charities.

-- Whether a charity is new or well established, you may wish to know what percentage of your contribution is spent on fundraising and other expenses---rather than in direct support the charitys stated purpose.

-- Be cautious when contacted by telephone for a contribution. Ask that the request be put in writing. You may also want to ask if the caller is a paid solicitor or a volunteer.

-- Never give your bank account information or credit/debit card numbers to a caller. And be wary if the person soliciting the contribution is willing to have someone rush to your home or business to meet with you and pick up a contribution.

-- If you wish to receive a tax deduction, make sure the organization has a tax deductible status with the Internal Revenue Service. Tax exempt, non-profit, and tax deductible mean different things. Only tax deductible means contributions are deductible on your income tax return. Visit the IRS website (www.irs.gov/charities) for more information.

-- Be wary of organizations which list only post office boxes or mail drop suite numbers as their address. You may wish to inquire about the charitys location.