Just a few short weeks ago, we celebrated the 242nd anniversary of our country’s independence. On July 4, I was happy to see many Kansans proudly displaying their patriotism with waving flags and “bombs bursting in air.”

That patriotism inspires many Kansans every year to donate to charitable organizations that support our military service members and veterans. We owe them a debt of gratitude for their service that can never be repaid, but supporting organizations that support our troops is a great way to give back. Unfortunately, many scam artists have been taking advantage of the goodwill offered by Kansans toward our troops by setting up fraudulent charities that purport to support the military and veterans, but in reality only line the scammers’ pockets.

Earlier this month, my office, along with the Federal Trade Commission and charity regulators across the nation, highlighted actions taken against some of these scam charities. More than 100 law enforcement actions targeting military- and veteran-related charities and fundraisers were announced. This unprecedented joint effort signals that charity scammers who prey on Americans’ patriotism and generosity should beware.

It’s also important for donors to be cautious when supporting charities. Here are some tips to stay safe from charity scams:

· Do your research before you donate. Don’t just immediately respond to the telephone, email or mail solicitation. Most charities soliciting in Kansas are required to register with the Secretary of State’s office. You can check to see if the charity is registered and also find out how much of the charity’s funds go to the charitable purpose, rather than to overhead and fundraising expenses, by visiting www.kscharitycheck.org. Please note, many religious organizations are not required to register.

· Watch out for names that sound alike. Scammers often make their organizations’ names sound very similar to other well-known veterans’ charities.

· Ask questions to find out where your donations go. Ask for written information, including how much of the money raised is actually used for charitable purposes and how much will end up in the hands of the professional fundraiser.

For more tips on how to stay safe when making charitable contributions, or to report a suspicious charity, visit our consumer protection website at www.InYourCornerKansas.org.