Tennessee Joins FTC, Other States to Combat Fraudulent Veterans Charities

Thursday, July 19, 2018

The Tennessee Secretary of State’s office, along with the Tennessee Attorney General’s office, is joining 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.

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.

“Tennesseans are some of the most giving people in the nation. It is unfortunate bad actors prey on our generosity for personal gain, especially when deceiving people into thinking they are helping the men and women who serve our country,” said Secretary of State Tre Hargett. “I hope Tennesseans will continue to donate their hard-earned dollars to benefit veterans after doing research.”

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 is intended to help consumers recognize charitable solicitation fraud and identify legitimate charities. A new video highlights tips on how to research charities on giving wisely to veterans’ organizations.

“Protecting Tennesseans from people or organizations that take advantage of the generosity of individuals who truly want to help those who have served our country with honor, is something my Office does not take lightly. We are proud to join with our state and federal partners to put an end to these deceptive acts,” said Tennessee Attorney General Herbert H. Slatery III.

Veterans fundraising fraud schemes target potential donors online, via telemarketing, direct mail, door-to-door contact 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.

Before giving to a charity, check Tennessee’s Easy Steps to Wise Giving. Donors and business owners can also find information to help them donate wisely and make their donations count at FTC.gov/Charity.

Anyone with questions about a charity can contact the Division of Charitable Solicitations, Fantasy Sports and Gaming at 1-800-861-7393 or sos.tn.gov/charitable.