Fraud & Scams

Steer Clear of Veterans Charity Scams

Cameron Huddleston
Cameron Huddleston
February 1, 2024
Steer Clear of Veterans Charity Scams

You get a call or a knock on the door. It’s someone asking if you want to help support the brave men and women who have served our country. Don’t rush, though, to pull out your credit card or checkbook to make a donation.

Scammers often take advantage of people’s willingness to give to causes that provide assistance for veterans, service members and their families. These fraudulent charities have taken millions of dollars from Americans who believed their money was going to those who have protected their freedom. 

For example, a federal grand jury charged a South Carolina man in December 2023 for allegedly defrauding the public of $9 million through an organization he created called Providing Hope VA that supposedly helped homeless veterans. And several fraudulent charities that falsely promised to support veterans have been shut down over the past five years by the Federal Trade Commission. 

However, veterans charity scams persist. That’s why it is important to be able to identify these schemes to ensure that your money actually goes toward legitimate causes. 

[ See: How to Avoid Military Romance Scams ]

How to spot veterans charity scams

Be on the lookout for these red flags when asked to donate to a cause that supports veterans or service members.

  • Pre-recorded calls: Legitimate charities aren’t allowed to use robocalls to contact potential donors unless they have given to those charities in the past, according to the FTC. 
  • After-hours calls: Fundraisers are allowed to call only between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m., according to the FTC. If you get a fundraising call outside of those hours, it’s a scam.
  • Emotional pleas with few details: If someone is tugging at your heart strings or sense of patriotism but can’t provide specific details about the work the charity does or how your money will be used, be wary. 
  • Pressure to act immediately: Beware of anyone that insists that you make a donation on the spot without giving you time to research the organization or think about whether you want to give. 
  • Requests for specific types of payments, such as wire transfers, gift cards and cryptocurrency.  Scammers ask for these forms of payment because they are hard to track. 
  • Guaranteed prize winnings in exchange for a donation. It’s illegal to promise that you’ll win a sweepstakes, raffle or any sort of contest if you make a donation.

How to avoid veterans charity scams

Being alert to the red flags of charity scams can help you avoid some schemes. However, because scammers can be convincing, you need to take extra precautions to ensure you’re not giving to fake charities.

Ask questions. Don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions when you’re being asked to make a donation. Legitimate organizations should be willing to provide answers to the following:

  • What is the organization’s exact name, phone number, mailing address and web address? Write down what you are told so that you can verify the information through other sources (see below). Also, be aware that most charitable organizations have websites that end with .org, not .com.
  • How much of my donation will go toward the cause I’m supporting? If the answer is 100%, that’s a lie. Charitable organizations do have overhead costs. However, highly ranked organizations tend to spend 75% or more of the money they raise on the programs they support.
  • Will my donation be tax-deductible? If so, could you tell me the organization’s Employer Identification Number (EIN)? Legitimate organizations will provide this information.
  • What is the organization’s mission, goals and history of success? Don’t give if you can’t get straight answers to these questions.

Research before giving. Compare the information the organization gives you with information from independent sources. You can check an organization’s tax-exempt status at You can find ratings of charities at and You also can search the name of the organization online with words such as “scam,” “complaint” or “review.” If you can’t find a record of the organization or the reviews are questionable, don’t donate to it.

Pay with safe methods. After researching charities, use a credit card or write a check to have a record of your payment and to make it easier to get your money back if the organization is fraudulent. Do not pay with a wire transfer, gift card, cryptocurrency or money transfer app such as Zelle or Venmo. If an organization insists that you use one of these methods of payment, it’s a scam.

Monitor your accounts. Keep an eye on your checking or credit card account to make sure you were charged only for the amount you agreed to give. Also, check back in the following months to ensure you weren’t signed up for recurring donations you didn’t intend to make, which is a tactic some organizations use to get more money. 

Using a service such as Carefull can make it easy to keep tabs on your accounts. Carefull provides 24/7 account monitoring and alerts you to suspicious transactions, signs of fraud and even money mistakes, such as unintended recurring donations. Carefull’s charitable contribution alerts also include Charity Navigator ratings of organizations to which you have donated to let you know if your money is going to reputable charities.

Try Carefull for free for 30 days to monitor your accounts for unusual transactions, signs of fraud and money mistakes.

How to support legitimate charities for veterans

Rather than respond to a call, email, text message or letter in the mail asking for a donation, seek out charities that support veterans or service members on your own. That way, you can take all of the time you need to research organizations and establish a giving budget. And you won’t feel compelled to give to other organizations that reach out because you’ll know that your money already has gone to legitimate causes.

Charity Navigator has a list of highly rated charities that support veterans and military service members. It’s a good place to start when looking for a trustworthy organization that aligns with your values. You also could check out CharityWatch’s list of veterans charities to avoid.

[ Keep Reading: 10 Signs You’re a Victim of Fraud or Identity Theft ]

Cameron Huddleston

Cameron Huddleston

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