In the wake of a year of earthquakes, floods and other disasters, Connecticut Better Business Bureau says National Consumer Protection Week serves as a reminder of some of the problems unethical fundraisers can cause. When tragedy strikes, charities and paid fundraisers move quickly to collect and help distribute money to victims. Unfortunately, so do scammers, who rush to set up phony charity websites and social media appeals. They also use the telephone, texts and emails, pretending to represent a legitimate charity. “Charity fraud creates multiple victims,” according to Connecticut Better Business Bureau spokesman Howard Schwartz. “Connecticut families step up to the plate to provide monetary support and volunteer work when others are in need. The sad part is, that not only do donors lose their money, but the victims and communities are robbed of money they need for support.”The key to smart giving is to stop and verify before making a donation, rather than acting on impulse, and taking a chance of unwittingly dealing with fraudulent fundraisers. Charity impostors and their scams have several red flags including vague appeals, names that are very similar to established charities, demands for specific payment methods such as cash or wire transfers, and a sense of urgency to collect a donation immediately.You can protect yourself by being proactive rather than reactive. Select a charity yourself rather than respond to an appeal. If you need help choosing someone, contact a well-known charity for recommendations.For more help with trusted giving, click here for BBB Wise Giving Alliance’s tips for charitable giving.