All charity scams are deplorable, but those pretending to raise funds to support our nation’s veterans are particularly shameful. Last week, the Federal Trade Commission, along with state charities regulators, announced a major takedown of fake veteran charities.
AARP is hosting the FTC for two hour long national telephone townhalls on the subject today at 9:10 am CT / 8:10 am MT and 1:00 pm CT / noon MT. If you’d like to listen in, dial 877-229-8493 and enter 13907 as the PIN.
We hope these actions will put a big dent in this type of scam, but chances are more fraudsters will pop up. Here’s what you should watch out for:
HOW IT WORKS
- Fake charities use the same techniques as trusted charities to reach you—in person, by mail, over the phone, online, by text, or by e-mail—so be mindful across communication channels.
- The name of the fake veteran charity may closely resemble the name of a real charity.
- The fake charity might ask you to wire money, donate by gift card or give cash—these are all red flags!
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW
- Real veteran charities need your support, and they, like us, lose out when a scammer steals our donation and diverts resources away from legitimate organizations.
- Scammers will put pressure on you to act quickly, before you have a chance to think through your decision or do any research.
WHAT YOU SHOULD DO
- When you do donate to a charity, use a check or credit card and keep records.
- If you are approached in person, ask for identification and details about the charity, including its full name and address, and how they will use the funds. If the person cannot furnish this information, close your door or walk away.
- Easily check out a charity before you give money by visiting www.ftc.gov/charity.
If you suspect a fake charity in your community, alert the SD Division of Consumer Protections by calling 1-800-300-1986 or visiting consumer.sd.gov. They can investigate your claims and warn other South Dakotans to stay vigilant. When it comes to fraud, vigilance is our number one weapon. You can join the Fraud Watch Network and receive alerts about scams happening in South Dakota. Any one of any age can join for free by visiting aarp.org/fraudwatchnetwork or to receive Fraud Watch Network alerts by phone, call 1-866-542-8172.
P.S. If you haven’t tuned into AARP’s weekly podcast The Perfect Scam, it’s worth a listen! The series shares compelling personal stories from scam victims and their families. Professional con artists and leading experts pull back the curtain on how scammers operate and share tips on how best to protect ourselves.
If you already enjoy The Perfect Scam, please nominate it for a People’s Choice Podcast Award!