Beware of Military Charity Fraud

There are many legitimate charities soliciting donations to help support veterans of the U.S. Military as well as families of active duty personnel.  However, individuals wishing to donate to these causes should carefully review how and to whom they give their contributions.  Unfortunately, there are many scammers impersonating charities, supposedly dedicated to helping veteran and military causes, but are really only interested in cashing in for themselves.  Donators should also be watchful of paid fundraisers.  Charities using paid fundraisers to solicit gifts may only be receiving a small part of the actual gift due to the fees charged by the paid fundraiser.  Before responding to any request for money, consumers should familiarize themselves with the organization soliciting donations and request written information about the organization and how the donation will be used.

Consumers can visit ChecktheCharity.com to research organizations purportedly raising funds for charitable causes.  It is a public-private partnership dedicated to promoting Colorado charities and to informing and protecting donors.  Other resources include the BBB Wise Giving Alliance, GuideStar, Charity Navigator, and the Colorado Secretary of State.

There are several ways consumers can ensure their donations are going to a legitimate charity and not a scammer trying to use the reputation of veterans and military families to get rich.  The first is to recognize that the words ‘veterans’ or ‘military families’ in an organization’s name do not guarantee that veterans or their families will benefit from donations.  Consumers should conduct thorough research about any organization before making a donation.  The Colorado Attorney General’s Office has created a list of the top ten signs consumers should look for when trying to identity a charity scam:

Top 10 Signs of a Charity Scam

The solicitor asks for donations in cash or by wire transfer.
The solicitor thanks you for a pledge you don’t remember making.
The solicitor offers to send an overnight delivery service or courier to collect your donation immediately.
The solicitor guarantees sweepstakes winnings in exchange for a contribution.
The soliciting organization has a name that is similar to that of a better-known, reputable organization.
The solicitor refuses to provide proof that a contribution is tax deductible.
The solicitor will not provide detailed information about the organization’s identity, mission, costs, or how the donation will be used.
The solicitor uses high-pressure tactics like trying to get you to donate immediately without giving you time to research the organization.
The organization is brand new and was created in response to aid those affected by a military conflict, natural disaster, or related news story.
The solicitor tells you the organization is endorsed by The U.S. Department of Defense.

Violations of the Charitable Solicitations Act are also considered a “deceptive trade practice” in violation of the Consumer Protection Act.  Consumers who believe they have been defrauded by a Colorado charity or business may wish to file a complaint with our office at: www.coloradoattorneygeneral.gov/complaint.

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