RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – A 12 on Your Side Alert tonight about a group that says it's working on behalf of veterans. The state says if you give money, you're doing it at your own risk.
The charity is called Veteran Services of Hampton Roads. The state office of consumer affairs says despite months of trying, it can't confirm the organization is legit, or exists at all.
"This group has not registered, which is required by law. They haven't register despite repeated attempts to get them to," said Elaine Lidholm.
Elaine Lidholm with Virginia Consumer Affairs says every charity operating in Virginia has to register with her office, including Veteran Services of Hampton Roads.
"A business called and said, you know these guys keep asking me for money-- and if they really are helping veterans, I want to help them out-- but I want to know if they're legitimate. I see they're not on your website," Lidholm said.
Charities that register with that state as the law requires end up on a searchable database. It confirms whether an organization can solicit in Virginia. A search for Veteran Services of Hampton Roads shows it cannot.
"It is a group who says they are collecting money and sometimes other goods, for veterans to give them things like clothing and food or perhaps to do a special event for them," she said.
The organization uses an address in Virginia Beach as its base of operations. The Virginia Department of Veterans Services says it has no affiliation to the organization. Lidholm says contributions to unregistered organizations may be used for non-charitable purposes, which is why charities are required to register with the state, so it has a record of where your donation dollars might be going.
"We have no documentation on them, so we don't know how much they're collecting and of that amount, how much is going out for the purpose for which it was intended," said Lidholm.
Before you give to any charity, you can check with the state to make sure it's registered and in good standing. The database is on the Consumer Affairs website.