AG Fox Joins FTC and Other States to Combat Fraudulent Veterans, Service Members Charities

Montana Attorney General Tim Fox joins the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and law enforcement officials and charity regulators from every state, the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam and Puerto Rico in announcing “Operation Donate with Honor,” a sweeping new donor education campaign to help donors spot and avoid fundraising solicitations that falsely promise their donations will help veterans and service members. The new campaign is released in conjunction with announcements of new and recent law enforcement actions by the FTC and many states.

“Every year, grateful Americans repay the sacrifices made by those who serve in the U.S. armed forces with contributions to charities that promise to deliver needed help and services to veterans and service members,” Attorney General Tim Fox said.  “Most of these charities live up to fundraising promises, but a few attract donations by lying about services not actually delivered.  In the process, they harm not only well-meaning donors, but also the many legitimate charities engaged in important work on behalf of veterans and service members.”

Operation Donate with Honor was developed by the FTC and the National Association of State Charity Officials (NASCO), the association of state offices charged with oversight of charitable organizations and charitable solicitations in the United States. The initiative pairs enforcement actions with an education campaign to help consumers recognize charitable solicitation fraud and to identify legitimate charities.  This includes a new video that highlights tips on how to research charities and give wisely to veterans organizations.

Veterans fundraising fraud schemes target potential donors online, via telemarketing, direct mail, door-to-door contacts, and at retail stores, falsely promising to help homeless and disabled veterans, to provide veterans with employment counseling, mental health counseling or other assistance, and to send care packages to deployed service members.  Many schemes solicit nationwide.

When donating to charity, Attorney General Fox advises:

• Ask for the charity’s name, website, and physical location;
• Ask how much of any donation will go to the charitable program you want to support;
• Search the charity’s name online with the word “scam” or “complaint.” See what other people say about it;
• Check out the charity’s ratings at the Wise Giving Alliance, Charity Watch, or Charity Navigator;
• Never pay with cash, a gift card, or by wiring money; and
• Consider paying by credit card, which is the safest option for security and tax purposes.

Donors and business owners can also find information to help them donate wisely at the Attorney General’s Office of Consumer Protection website and  FTC.gov/Charity.

To report an attempted scam, call your local law enforcement agency or the Montana Department of Justice’s Office of Consumer Protection at (800) 481-6896 or (406) 444-4500, or visit http://dojmt.gov/consumer.

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