COLUMBUS, OH (WOIO) - As Ohioans prepare to honor service members on Veterans Day, Attorney General Mike DeWine is warning donors to beware of veterans' charity scams and those who make false promises to help veterans.
"The majority of veterans' charities provide excellent services to help veterans and their families," Attorney General DeWine said. "Unfortunately, there are some individuals and organizations that take advantage of the debt of gratitude we feel to our veterans and use the proceeds for their own gain. I encourage Ohioans to be generous, but also take the time to research charities."
Thus far in 2013, the Attorney General's Charitable Law Section has handled six cases involving veterans-related charities, including a civil judgment against a fraudulent veterans' charity and an agreement with two individuals to stop illegal solicitations on behalf of a legitimate veterans' charity.
Signs of a potential scam include:
• Charities with names that are similar to well-known, nationally recognized charities
• High-pressure tactics and requests for immediate donations
• Callers who are hesitant or unable to answer questions about the charity
• Callers who offer to pick up donations immediately instead of waiting to receive them in the mail
• Requests for checks to be made payable to a person instead of a charity
Ohioans can protect themselves from charitable scams by taking the following steps:
• Research a charity with the Ohio Attorney General's Office. In Ohio, charitable organizations must file annual reports with the Ohio Attorney General's Office, and you can search on the office's website to determine whether an organization is in compliance.
• Be skeptical of individuals soliciting outside malls or shopping centers. Before making a contribution, find out how your donation will be used. Call the charity and ask questions. A reputable organization will welcome inquiries.
• Request written information. Review the materials carefully, and check the information with an independent resource before making a donation.
• Develop a donor plan to determine which charities you want to support. Talk to family and friends for suggestions. When you receive unexpected solicitations, say – "I've already made plans for this year, but you could send me information to review for next year."
• Review your donations. Don't give your credit card or banking information over the phone to an unexpected caller. Scammers may prey on your desire to help, so stick to your plan and be an informed donor.