Don’t Be Taken In by Bogus Charities

As we celebrate Memorial Day, many people in Connecticut and throughout the country will contribute to charities to support our nation’s servicemen and women, veterans, and their families. Many worthwhile organizations do great work for veterans and I urge you to consider supporting their efforts.

I urge you to contribute generously, but be aware and astute in the organizations that you support. Sadly, some “charities” fraudulently seek to prey on your generosity to unjustly enrich themselves. Other organizations may have no malicious intent but may have high operating costs, and may give only a small portion of your donations to the actual activity you wish to support.

In response to complaints and concerns raised by the Connecticut Veterans of Foreign Wars and other constituents and veterans, I recently called on the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to investigate the “Veterans Support Organization” (VSO). The VSO had allegedly hired paid solicitors to pose as volunteers to collect funds, with only a small percentage of donations going to charitable purposes. I have since received complaints about other specious organizations, and I will continue to help investigate and shed light on deceptive practices that harm the credibility and effectiveness of legitimate nonprofit organizations truly helping America’s heroes.      

When considering charitable organizations, do your research. Verify that the organization has a legitimate track record by asking the organization for more information, or by contacting the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection’s Office of Public Charities at 860-713-6170. You can learn more about specific charities with the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance and GuideStar, or find information from the Department of Defense about military relief societies. The FTC also provides helpful resources on avoiding charity fraud.

If you suspect that an organization may be making misleading solicitations or may not be operating for charitable purposes, I encourage you to contact the Connecticut Attorney General's office at 860-808-5318. You may also file a complaint with the FTC online, or by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357).