Protect yourself from false charities

Attorney General Rob McKenna has filed suits against Veterans of Western Washington, Blind Children Services of Puget Sound and four individuals connected with those organizations.

"The defendants, most of whom live in Snohomish County, illegally solicited donations under numerous names even after the secretary of state's office canceled their registrations," McKenna said. "Washington law requires that charities register with the secretary of state and provide certain financial records so consumers can learn more about how their donations will be spent before deciding to contribute."

The lawsuits serve as a reminder how donors need to ensure that their dollars are going to a legitimate cause and not simply to line the pockets of a scam artist.

In the case at hand, McKenna claims those involved have "assumed a plethora of identities related to causes that would appear to benefit veterans, children and domestic violence victims. Many of the charities they solicited for were not registered with the state. They also claimed to represent organizations they weren't affiliated with."

McKenna said consumers who were solicited for donations by Veterans of Western Washington or Blind Children Services of Puget Sound can file a consumer complaint with the Attorney General's Office online at www.atg.wa.gov or call 800-551-4636.

Remember, every charity doing business in Washington state is required to file with the state. A simple telephone call to the charities information hot line a 800-332-4483 or a search online at www.secstate.wa.gov/charities will separate the legitimate charities from the scams.