“Americans are grateful for the sacrifices made by those who serve in the U.S. armed forces,” said FTC Chairman Joe Simons. “Sadly, some con artists prey on that gratitude, using lies and deception to line their own pockets. In the process, they harm not only well-meaning donors, but also the many legitimate charities that actually do great work on behalf of veterans and servicemembers.”
– Federal Trade Commission – “FTC and States Combat Fraudulent Charities That Falsely Claim to Help Veterans and Servicemembers”
Do your research
- Search the charity’s name online with words like “complaint” and “scam.”
- Check out reports and ratings through trustworthy organizations like BBB Wise Giving Alliance, Charity Navigator, CharityWatch, and GuideStar.
- See if the charity is registered with your state charity regulator. Most states require charities to register before soliciting. You can find your state regulator at nasconet.org.
- Use the IRS’s Tax Exempt Organization Search to see if your donation is tax-deductible.
- If someone asks you to send them cash, wire money, donate by gift card, or leave money under your front door mat for pick-up, don’t do it. That’s how scammers often ask you to pay. It’s safer to pay by credit card or check.
- If you’re donating online, check that the webpage where you enter your payment information has “https” in the web address. That means your information is transmitted securely.
- Legitimate charities will give you a receipt that shows the amount of your donation. Keep that record and check your credit card statements to make sure you’re only charged for the donation you wanted to make.
- What’s the charity’s website, address, and mission?
- How much of your donation will go directly to services that help veterans, rather than fundraising?
- How much of your donation will be used for the specific programs you want to support?
- If supporting veterans in your own community is important to you, ask how the charity spends money in your area.
- They spoof caller ID to make their fundraising calls look like they’re from your local area code, a Washington, D.C. area code, or from an organization you know.
- They pressure you into donating immediately before you have time to do any research. A legitimate charity will welcome your donation at any time.
- They claim that you’ll win a sweepstakes or get a prize if you donate, which is against the law.
- They thank you for a donation you don’t remember making. Scammers do that to trick you into thinking you actually made a pledge, and guilt you into sending money.
The Poppy Scam
Around the world, organizations such as the Royal Canadian Legion sell poppies in November to raise funds in support of veterans programs. Every year, the donation boxes across the country are a target of theft, leaving a hole in veteran fundraising efforts and in the hearts of Canadians. While all theft is wrong, we feel a much deeper repulsion to someone that steals from the vulnerable, as opposed to a Robin Hood type theft by someone whose is trying to feed their family.
These types of criminal acts that target Veterans in the weeks before Veterans Day / Remembrance Day occur around the world in the form counterfeit merchandise, fake charities, etc, but the easily accessible poppy donation box has always been a favorite target of these lowlifes for years.
Please show your support for veterans, not just today, but everyday. If you are able, please help replenish what was taken from them.