Verify Military Charities Before Giving
November 11, 2015
Happy Veterans Day! Today, we thank the men and women who have bravely defended our country, but it is also a good opportunity to remind Arkansans of the fraud that is directed at this group of heroes. Charitable organizations that provide support to military service members, veterans and their families often generate donations from many good-hearted Arkansans. Unfortunately, scam artists take advantage of this generosity.
Arkansas law requires most charitable organizations to register with the Attorney General’s office prior to soliciting donations. Organizations are required to provide financial information about how the donations are used and potential donors can contact the Consumer Protection Division at (800) 482-8982 with specific charity questions. Individuals may search organizations to see if they are registered at ArkansasAG.gov.
Attorney General Rutledge issued today’s consumer alert to make Arkansans aware that the Attorney General’s office charities registration is a helpful resource they can use when making plans to donate to a cause or organization.
“Research charities before making donations,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Many con artists are smart and use a name similar to a popular charity that indeed helps veterans, hoping citizens do not realize the difference. The scammers then pocket your money and disappear.”
Attorney General Rutledge released the following tips to consumers to help ensure an organization’s legitimacy before giving money:
- Ask questions before you give. Only give when you feel comfortable that your donation will support an organization and activities in which you believe. Refuse high-pressure appeals. Legitimate charities will not rush a donation.
- Ask for written information or research the organization online. A legitimate charity will send information that provides the organization’s mission and how the donation will be used, along with proof that the contribution is tax deductible.
- Call the charity directly. To avoid falling victim to sham solicitors, personally contact the charity before giving a donation by email, to the person knocking at your front door or to a telephone solicitor to ensure it is not a scam.
- Do not send cash. For security and tax records, make donations by check or credit card.
- Search the Arkansas Charities Database for more information on charities in Arkansas, including those benefiting service members and their families.
In 2007, the Attorney General’s office entered into a consent judgment against Washington-based American Veterans Coalition for violating Arkansas’s Deceptive Trade Practices Act. In the consent judgment, the defendants were prohibited from collecting donations in Arkansas for five years and were required to repay the State $83,749.
Arkansas donors, military service members, veterans and families who have identified a scam in the name of charity should file consumer complaints with the Attorney General’s office on ArkansasAG.gov or by calling (800) 482-8982.