ANDY'S CONSUMER TIP OF THE DAY: deceptive Vietnam War veterans charity

Updated: Nov. 13, 2017 at 5:41 PM CST
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MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Tennessee Secretary of State and former Bartlett, Tennessee, State Rep. Tre Hargett announced Monday his office and Tennessee Attorney General Herbert H. Slatery, III have joined officials in 24 states in shutting down a deceptive veterans charity.

They alleged VietNow, based in Illinois and registered in Michigan, conducted "unlawful solicitations" and made false claims about benefit collections for veterans. "In its most recent financial statement, Vietnow reported raising nearly $2 million nationwide; only five percent of funds raised went to charitable programs," wrote Tennessee Secretary of State Director of Communications Adam Ghassemi in a news release. "Attorneys general in multiple states soon began their own investigations of VietNow, which led to the present negotiated resolution." That resolution is the dissolution of VietNow, according to Ghassemi.

"I hope this will serve as a warning to organizations that attempt to prey on the giving nature of Tennesseans," said Hargett. "I am thankful for the swift action of the states that joined forces to put a stop to this organization's deceitful solicitations."

VietNow's deception is a reminder of why consumers should always check with their state's charity regulator (in Tennessee, it's the Tennessee Secretary of State's Division of Charitable Solicitations), the Better Business Bureau's Wise Giving Alliance and Charity Navigator.

The Federal Trade Commission recommended avoiding any charity or fundraiser that:

* Refuses to provide detailed information about its identity, mission, costs and how the donation will be used.

* Won't provide proof that a contribution is tax-deductible.

* Uses a name that closely resembles a better known, reputable organization.

* Thanks you for a pledge you don't remember making.

* Uses high-pressure sales tactics like trying to get you to donate immediately without giving you time to think about it and do your research.

* Insists on cash donations or wire transfers.

* Offers to send a courier or overnight delivery service to collect your donation.

* Guarantees sweepstakes winnings in exchange for a contribution.

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