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BBB, regulators team up to fight fake veterans charities

The Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance joined federal and state regulators to expose six bogus veterans charities and to help you make a #WiseChoice in charity donations.

In a Washington news conference earlier this month with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), H. Art Taylor, BBB Wise Giving Alliance president and CEO, outed six so-called ‘veterans charities’ who failed to disclose their financial information to the alliance:

  • Foundation for American Veterans
  • Healing American Heroes, aka Help Our Wounded
  • Healing Heroes Network
  • Help The Vets, aka American Disabled Veterans Foundation, Military Families of America, Veterans Fighting Breast Cancer
  • National Vietnam Veterans Foundation
  • VietNow

The FTC also disclosed a list of veterans charities and professional for-profit fundraisers whom federal and state agents have investigated or prosecuted for charity fraud.

“It is particularly disheartening that we hear about recent government actions that identified misleading appeals from charities that claimed to help our service members,” Taylor said at the news conference. “As with any charity appeal, we urge donors to exercise caution and check out organizations before making a giving decision.”

The BBB and FTC teamed up with state prosecutors and regulators to launch Operation Donate with Honor. The effort combines investigations, enforcement actions and a social media/video campaign to help consumers make #WiseChoices in veterans charities.

Operation Donate with Honor continues our office’s position to ensure funds donated are received by those who need it the most,” said Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood.

The BBB, FTC and Mississippi attorney general’s office offered these protections against fake charities:

  • SIMILAR NAMES/MISTAKEN IDENTITIES. Fake veterans charities, in particular, thrive on making themselves sound like legitimate veterans charities. They use similar words, namesakes…sometimes, they even use the exact same words, but in different order.
  • CHECK OUTSIDE SOURCES BEFORE YOU GIVE. Before you give a single dollar, check with the BBB’s Wise Giving Alliance and Charity Navigator to see if it’s a legitimately registered nonprofit or not-for-profit. You should also check with your state’s secretary of state’s office, charities bureau or attorney general to see if the charity is lawfully operating in your state. Your state’s charity regulator will also disclose how much of your donated dollar truly goes to the charitable function of the organization.
  • AVOID ON-THE-SPOT DONATION DECISIONS. There’s never a hurry to donate. If you’re being pressured to give, you shouldn’t give.
  • DOES WHAT THEY ‘SAY’ THEY DO MATCH WHAT THEY ‘ACTUALLY’ DO? Check the charity’s appeal against its program and financial information appearing on its website and in its promotions.
  • BEWARE TELEMARKETING SOLICITATIONS. Not only are they typically an unprofessional method of solicitation, but they are also a means of scoring donations without giving you an opportunity to check out the group. Even if it is a legitimate group, telemarketing is an expensive fundraising method — and your donations pay for it.
  • BEWARE UNUSUAL DONATION OPTIONS. Did it request you donate via wire transfer? Gift cards? Pre-paid debit cards? If so, it’s a scam.
  • ASK HOW YOUR DONATED ITEMS WILL BE USED. Find out how the charity will benefit from your donated clothing or merchandise. Often, a big chunk of what a charity makes from your donated items goes either to operating costs or to a collection subcontractor.

Copyright 2018 Wise Choices TM. All rights reserved.

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