Utah cracking down on fake charities

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SALT LAKE CITY -- Utah joined the federal government Wednesday in launching a crackdown on bogus charities. They want to protect your hard-earned cash from charities that cheat.

"Operation False Charity" is a nationwide crackdown on fraudulent fundraisers who claim to help firefighters, police officers and veterans but don't.

Because these community heroes are the "good guys" who put it all on the line to protect us, it's hard to resist giving when you get a call from a person who says he's raising money them.

"We want the public to give, and the whole purpose of what we do is to help maintain that confidence, protect that confidence," said Kevin Olsen, director of the Utah Division of Consumer Protection.

Olsen says his office wants to make sure your donations make a difference. "They donate the money and assume it's going where they were told it's going, and if it doesn't go there then we think that's a problem," he said.

Federal and state authorities brought 76 actions against fraudulent solicitors nationwide; among them, a defendant who tricked consumers by claiming all donations would go to disabled police officers and firefighters.

None of those cases came from Utah, but the Division of Consumer Protection wants us to be alert to this kind of fraud. Officials there say charities must have a permit and register with the state.

You can find that list of legitimate charities online and discover what percentage of your donation actually goes to the purpose. [CLICK HERE to see the list of registered charities]

"The FTC reported one charity was receiving 50 cents for every hundred dollars collected by the professional fundraiser," Olsen said.

Olsen urges us not to lose our generosity, just be cautious.

E-mail: jboal@ksl.com

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Jed Boal


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