The Arizona Attorney General’s Office is proud to take part in “Operation Donate with Honor,” a new donor education campaign teaching consumers how to spot fraudulent charities for veterans and service members.
The campaign was launched Thursday morning, alongside the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), law enforcement agencies and charity regulators from all 50 states. In addition to consumer education, Operation Donate with Honor is also cracking down on bogus charities. So far, across the country more than 95 actions have been taken against charities, fundraisers, and individuals for allegedly scamming consumers.
“It sickens me when I hear about fraudulent charities preying on Americans’ patriotism and their compassion for our veterans and military,” said Attorney General Mark Brnovich. “Operation Donate with Honor should serve as notice to all scammers out there that we’re watching at the local, state, and federal level, and we will come after you.”
In addition to Operation Donate with Honor, the Arizona Attorney General’s Office took action recently to protect consumers from fraudulent charities with Senate Bill 1077.The bill, which unanimously passed the state legislature this year, makes it illegal to knowingly make a misrepresentation to a person that a donation is:
- Going to a non-profit corporation
- Enabling the person to receive a tax credit
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 national education campaign is intended to help consumers learn how to spot fraudulent and deceptive solicitations when it comes to charities for veterans and service members. The initiative includes this new video with the FTC and Arizona Attorney General's Office.
Attorney General Brnovich offers the following tips to avoid charity scams:
- Don’t give on impulse. Be wary of high-pressure requests for contributions or donations.
- Always get written information (including annual reports) about the charity before you donate. Find out how your donation is distributed and how much of your donation will actually go to the charity itself (versus administrative costs). Legitimate charities are happy to provide information about their charity for you to review and share with neighbors, friends and family.
- Never give cash. Contribute by credit card or by a check that is payable to the charity, not to an individual, and mail the check directly to the charity. Remember, you can often get chargebacks with a credit card, but not with checks.
- Watch out for charities with names that sound similar to well-known organizations. Sometimes these sound-alike names are simply intended to confuse donors. Also be cautious of “look-alike” websites. These fraudulent websites will often ask for personal financial information or may download harmful malware into your computer.
- If you receive an email or text message asking for a donation, confirm that the request is from the charity, and not an imposter, by contacting the charity or visiting its website. Likewise, don’t assume that charity recommendations on Facebook, blogs, or other social media have already been vetted. Research the charity yourself.
- Never give out personal information, such as your birth date, social security number, credit card number, checking account number or any financial information to a solicitor over the phone, by mail, or at your front door.
- Never donate (a) directly from your account, such as an automatic debit; (b) by courier/overnight express; or (c) by wire. Always donate directly to the organization either in person (at an event sponsored by the charity), by credit card, or through the United States Postal Service.
- Know the difference between “tax-deductible” and “tax exempt.” Tax-deductible means you can deduct your donation on your federal income tax return. Tax exempt means the charity does not have to pay taxes. Even if an organization is tax exempt, your donation may not be tax deductible. If you would like a tax deduction, ask the charity for a receipt showing the amount of the contribution and stating that your donation is tax deductible. For more tax information regarding charitable contributions visit http://www.irs.gov/Charities-&-Non-Profits/Contributors.
For more information about charities and fundraising, or to check out a charity online, please contact the following agencies:
Federal Trade Commission at: www.ftc.gov/charityfraud or www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0074-giving-charity
Better Business Bureau at: www.bbb.org/us/charity