Any phone scam that tries to steal money from innocent people is terrible. But the rash of scams posing as charities for veterans is especially detestable.
These scams prey on people’s generosity by tricking them into thinking their money, cars, boats, and other donations will go toward helping veterans. In most cases, these fake veterans charities take most or all of the contributions for themselves.
Last Thursday, the FTC announced a total of 100 enforcement actions against these types of fake veterans charities with the help of officials in all 50 states and released a PSA video warning about these scams.
There are a few simple methods you can use to keep charity schemes away from your wallet.
Many of these fake charities used robocalls to reach potential victims. Apps like RoboKiller learn which numbers scammers call from and which ones legitimate charities use, even if they look like a local number or a 1-800 number.
If scammers spoof a new number and RoboKiller users recognize it as a scam, that number quickly becomes blacklisted.
Sometimes a simple search for the charity will tell you all you need to know. Articles about the organization, reviews, and having a legitimate website with their 501(c)(3) nonprofit number is a quick way to gauge their authenticity.
Hint: If you can’t find a website and information that explicitly states they’re a 501(c)(3) organization, it could be a for-profit scam posing as a charity. Here are some tips to stay safe.
Legitimate charities won’t ask for gift cards or wire transfer, and they’ll always be able to give you receipts for tax deductions.
As you’ll see below, a common scamming practice is to use a name that sounds official or closely imitates a legitimate organization.
Real charities will have answers to these questions, but scammers will often struggle to answer them. If the caller is vague, be wary.
The FTC put together a list of warning signs you should pay attention to.
If these names sound like real charities, that’s the point. Most scam organizations will choose a name that looks official and closely resembles another legitimate company or charity.
If you suspect a call from someone who claimed to represent a charity might be lying or that the charity itself is a scam, report it to the FTC. The more information you can give them, the better. This includes the fundraiser’s name, phone number, website, address, and any other info they gave you.
The more information the FTC has on scammers, the more likely they’ll be able to shut the scammers down.