Washington state officials bust up stingy 'badge charities' - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Defendants claimed to help police, firefighters and veterans

Washington state officials bust up stingy 'badge charities'

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SEATTLE, Wash. - Washington Attorney General Rob McKenna and Secretary of State Sam Reed are slinging their pistols - figuratively speaking - at lawless "badge charities." The state officials joined the Federal Trade Commission, state enforcement agencies and AARP Washington in announcing a nationwide crackdown on fraudulent charitable solicitors claiming to help police, firefighters and veterans.

Federal and state enforcers announced 76 law enforcement actions against 32 fundraising companies, 22 non-profits or purported non-profits on whose behalf funds were solicited, and 31 individuals. These include two FTC actions against alleged sham non-profits and the telemarketers who made deceptive claims about these so-called charities.

Dubbed Operation False Charity, the sweep includes local and national enforcement actions and outreach initiatives.

"Operation False Charity is about sounding the siren on the phonies, cheapskates and outlaws," McKenna said. "We're policing those who claim to be raising money for cops, firefighters and veterans but aren't being honest.

"Just because someone says they are raising money for veterans or police does not mean every dollar you give will go toward those deserving causes," said Reed. "Some solicitors will return very little - or nothing at all - to the charity they claim to be representing. That's why it's so important to know who is taking your donations, and how that money will be spent."

Tips to make sure your donations go to a legitimate charity:

  • Recognize that the words "veterans" or "military families" in an organization's name don't necessarily mean that veterans or the families of active-duty personnel will benefit from your donation.
  • Check out an organization before donating. Some phony charities use names, seals, and logos that look or sound like those of respected, legitimate organizations.
  • Donate to charities with a track record and a history. Charities that spring up overnight may disappear just as quickly.
  • If you have any doubt about whether you've made a pledge or a contribution, check your records. If you don't remember making the donation or pledge, resist the pressure to give.
  • Call the office in your state that regulates charitable organizations to see whether the charity or fundraising organization has to be registered.
  • Do not send or give cash donations. For security and tax-record purposes, it's best to pay with a check made payable to the charity.
  • Ask for a receipt showing the amount of your contribution.
  • Be wary of promises of guaranteed sweepstakes winnings in exchange for a contribution. You never have to give a donation to be eligible to win a sweepstakes.
  • Remove your name from mailing lists and telemarketing lists. Contact the Direct Marketing Association's opt-out service at www.dmachoice.org. Register for the national Do Not Call list at www.donotcall.gov or 1-888-382-1222. Individuals with dementia or other cognitive impairments may be particularly vulnerable to solicitations, so caretakers should remove them from these lists.

Click here for a list of enforcement actions taken as a result of 'Operation False Charity'

 

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