Association Helps FTC Go After Veterans Charity Scams

As part of its new “Operation Donate With Honor” initiative, the Federal Trade Commission is boosting enforcement against fraudulent veterans charities and working to inform consumers about scams. The agency is getting help in the effort from the National Association of State Charity Officials.

The Federal Trade Commission is cracking down on fake charities that prey on people’s desire to help veterans, and it’s doing so in collaboration with an association.

Last week, the FTC announced that it has teamed with National Association of State Charity Officials, which represents state charity regulators around the country, on a new initiative called “Operation Donate with Honor” to educate consumers and crack down on charities that falsely claim to help veterans. The commission revealed more than 100 enforcement actions [PDF] at the state or federal level against charities accused of committing fraud.

“Americans are grateful for the sacrifices made by those who serve in the U.S. armed forces,” FTC Chairman Joe Simons said in a news release. “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 service members.”

The initiative is also supported by the National Association of Attorneys General, according to the news release.

Among the organizations targeted for enforcement were Veterans of America, which the FTC said used robocalls and other tactics to convince consumers to donate cars, boats, and other goods, and Help the Vets, which falsely promised that charitable donations would aid wounded or disabled vets. The commission took a range of actions against dozens of groups, including obtaining court orders that prohibit fraudulent solicitations and  imposing financial penalties.

The initiative includes a variety of educational resources, including an informational page on the FTC website and a video with tips to help donors tell the difference between a legitimate charity and one that may be acting in bad faith. Among other things, the commission recommends that consumers consult organizations like Charity Navigator or GuideStar before making a contribution.

Acting Veterans Affairs Secretary Peter O’Rourke noted in the news release that the damage from fraud extends beyond the donors they scam.

“Not only do fraudulent charities steal money from patriotic Americans, they also discourage contributors from donating to real veterans’ charities,” O’Rourke said.

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Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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