Scam season in full blossom

We are always on the alert for scams. Targeting the most vulnerable people, they make bad situations so much worse.  One good place to check, when you are not sure who you are dealing with is the Federal Trade Commission.

Check out:  www.consumer.ftc.gov/search/site/veterans

Their scams and alert page demonstrates how many of these scams are taking money from Americans every day.  A couple of the more insidisous ones are callers, sometimes appearing to be from funeral homes, demanding the purchase of an "insurance card" to "reinstate" a supposedly lapsed insurance policy.  Remember - the VA will always communicate benefits by mail, not the telephone.  

Others are "charities" that mostly benefit the owners.  Roger Chapin, now deceased, made millions with Veterans and other charities that did little except enrich himself. Some are still around like that.  

Sadly, we've also seen legitimate organizations that get involved with expensive fundraisers.  Althought these well-meaning folks often deliver good services, they may come at a very high cost overall.  This article, from 2014, is worth taking a look at.

(http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/watchdog/sdut-veterans-charitie...

Another good place to check is the Better Business Bureau.  For instance:  
 

Foundation for American Veterans reported receiving about $12.2 million in cash in 2013 and 2014 as a result of its fundraising campaigns, according to the charity’s Form 990 reports to the Internal Revenue Service. The documents show the charity paid out about $10.5 million in fees to fundraisers and others associated with the solicitation campaigns.

Those figures show the charity received less than 14 percent of the money raised in the campaigns. Much of that 14 percent went to other contractors, salaries and additional overhead expenses.

The charity reported cash grants totaling $159,000 for the two years, most to veterans’ hospitals in Michigan and Florida. That total is about a penny of every dollar donated.

Remember: 

  • First, do not feel obligated to send money or financial information over the phone.
  • Beware of charities that sound similar to others.
  • Be cautious of invitations to donate via social media; some may be legitimate, but they should be verified before you make a commitment to donate.
  • You should always ask solicitors what percentage of your donation will be given to relief efforts. By law, the solicitor must tell you if you ask.
  • Make sure to avoid wire transfers or giving gift cards as a donation method (major red flag).

Once you've thoroughly checked out a charity and are willing to donate, contact them yourself.  Don't trust commercial fund raisers or anonymous phone calls.  Many local veteran organizations would be just as happy for your time as your money.  Getting involved locally with some of the organizations on TexVet keeps your time and money in the community you live in.  That's a great way to get after it.

July 28, 2017 - 10:46am
Author: 
pjefferies