We’ve heard from some of our readers that they’ve been exposed to some care package scams, so we wanted to give you the down-low on how to avoid care package scams.
Obviously, almost every American is supportive of our military members, but some people unfortunately take advantage of that. But if you’re aware and alert, you don’t have to fall victim to those scams.
Here are just a couple tips that we’ve gathered to help you avoid care package scams:
1. Be Careful of Door-to-Door Visitors
It happens all over the country. From Denver to Iowa, news organizations investigated groups of people soliciting funds door-to-door to help U.S. service members deployed overseas. Both organizations—Helping Heroes and Warrior Box Marketing—have websites, but officials believe it’s a scam.
Even when Denver7, the local news channel, tried to call Helping Heroes multiple times, they received no response. Additionally, the websites don’t indicate how the money is being spent to help our troops abroad.
These door-to-door visitors may have “official laminated stuff,” but police note that it’s really just a marketing scam; they are using people’s emotions to make a sale. And at least in Iowa, police suspect that this kind of scamming has been going on since 2015.
My advice would be to carefully vet any door-to-door visitors like those supposedly from Helping Heroes and Warrior Box Marketing and lean toward the fact that it’s probably a scam. I would check out their website and see if it’s been checked by the Department of Defense or Better Business Bureau. You could also see if you personally know someone who has successfully sent a care package through that organization. It’s better to err on the side of caution!
2. See if Your Friends Have Used the Organization
Care package organizations are great in that you can send items or packages overseas even if you don’t know any currently deployed service members. Since you can’t ensure that the care package gets to the service member overseas because you don’t know him or her, it’s important to pick a trustworthy organization.
Of course, it’s also important to pick a reliable organization even if you are sending a package to your loved one because you want it to actually get there!
Ask any military spouses you might know if they have used any care package organization. You can also check out the plethora of military spouse blogs on the internet to see what organizations they recommend.
I personally have only sent one care package from an organization because I enjoy coming up with fun ideas and personalizing the package. But my immediate family and I were very eager to send a package to my fiancé from Hero Care Packages to see what it was like. My dad, my sister, and I all pooled together our resources to send a package to my fiancé this June. He got it extremely quickly and loved it.
3. Check out the DoD Listings or BBB
Perhaps the easiest way to ensure that you can trust the care package donation company is to look at this list on Military.com of DoD approved organizations. Not only does it mention 20 different organizations that are trusted but also it lists what organization has inspected them.
If you happen to find a care package organization online that you think looks really good, you can always vet it yourself on the Better Business Bureau website. You’ll quickly learn if the organization is accredited by the BBB and what kind of grade it would give that organization.
Now that you know what organizations to avoid, you may also want to check out our previous post on getting your school involved in sending care packages. It will give you some great ideas of different ways you can send care packages overseas if you want to mail them yourself or if you want to let an organization do it.
If you have a large group of people from your rec volleyball team or church small group, you could send letters or wish list items through Operation Gratitude or any other DoD approved organization, and of course you can always send one through us even if you don’t know someone serving!
4. Don't send any care packages to service members unless there is an APO, FPO, or DPO in the address.
In addition to companies asking for money, in recent months we've been flooded with emails from people asking about shipments to foreign countries on behalf of claimed service members (usually Syria). The easy question here is: what is the address? If it has an APO/FPO/DPO or an AP/AE designation, that means it's an official military address. Beware of sending anything to a foreign country. For more information on that (and why military addresses should always be "United States" addresses!) check out our post on addressing a military care package.
What organizations have you used to send care packages that you’ve really loved? Or what organizations do you know for sure are a scam? Comment below with ones that you know will (or maybe won’t) get that care package to your loved one!