Alaska Attorney General Joins “Operation Donate with Honor”
ANCHORAGE—Attorney General Jahna Lindemuth joined the Federal Trade Commission 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 being 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. Most of these charities live up to fundraising promises, but a few attract donations by lying about help and support not actually delivered. In the process, they harm not only well-meaning donors, but also the many legitimate charities engaged in important and vital work on behalf of veterans and service members.
“Our veterans have given so much for us and our country. Many of us want to show our appreciation by giving back to them,” said Attorney General Jahna Lindemuth. “Unfortunately, there are those who take advantage of this generosity to line their own pockets. That’s why we all need to be vigilant before we hand our money over.”
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, in English and Spanish, to help consumers recognize charitable solicitation fraud and identify legitimate charities. This includes a new video that highlights tips on how to research charities on giving 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.
The national education campaign being announced today is intended to help potential donors, regardless of where or how they choose to donate, learn how to spot fraudulent and deceptive solicitations and make sure their contributions actually benefit veterans and service members.
“I want to thank our Consumer Protection Unit for spearheading these efforts for Alaskans,” said Attorney General Lindemuth. “I encourage all Alaskans to support our veterans through the many reputable charities that truly make a difference in the lives of veterans and their families. If you are ever in doubt, contact our office or the FTC.”
When donating to charity, among other things, the Alaska Attorney General’s Office 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;
- Check whether the charity is registered in Alaska at http://www.law.alaska.gov/department/civil/consumer/charities_list.html;
- 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.
Before giving to a charity, read the Department of Law’s advice on wise giving at http://www.law.alaska.gov/department/civil/consumer/charities.html. Donors and business owners can also find information to help them donate wisely and make their donations count at FTC.gov/Charity.
Consumers may file complaints to the Alaska Department of Law, Consumer Protection Unit. Instructions on filing consumer complaints are located at http://www.law.alaska.gov/department/civil/consumer/cp_complaint.html.