Fundraising group agrees with Iowa AG to change its practices

Keith Loria Dec. 10, 2010, 6:30am


DES MOINES, Iowa (Legal Newsline) - Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller has announced he has reached an agreement with a Minnesota fundraising group that requires it to change its practices in the state.

Public Safety Council LLP, and Community Safety LLC, its subcontractor Safety Services LLC, and its principals, J. Michael Callan and Robert T. Callan, agreed to an assurance of voluntary compliance with Miller.

The defendants allegedly used a St. Paul, Minn.-based call center to contact Iowa consumers on behalf of at least three Iowa law enforcement associations -- The Iowa State Police Association, the Iowa State Reserve Law Officers Association and the Iowa Peace Officers Association.

Miller alleges that the Consumer Protection Division recorded several calls that allegedly revealed unfair and deceptive conduct.

Miller alleges that, in addition to insinuating that they were directly associated with ISPA or a law enforcement agency, the telephone solicitors also failed to identify themselves as paid professional fundraisers and falsely inflated the amount of donations benefiting the charity. In some cases, callers implied that almost the full donation would be given to charity.

The fundraisers allegedly retained 84 percent of donations submitted to the Iowa State Police Association and only 15 percent of the ISRLOA donations went to the association.

Misrepresentations also occurred in calls for fundraising on behalf of the IAPO, when only 16 percent of the money collected was given to the association.

Under terms of the agreement, the fundraising group can no longer make false or misleading representations of material facts while fundraising and cannot misrepresent that solicitors are members of, employees of, or volunteers for the beneficiary organizations or agencies.

It also must clearly state in all calls that its telephone solicitors are acting as a professional fundraiser, must enact policies to ensure that its solicitors provide accurate and informative responses to consumers' questions about the real percentage of donations that go to the recipient organization, and must not provide false information about the location from which the telephone solicitor is calling.

Additionally, the company can't overstate the benefit of a donation to a consumer's local community, region or state, and they cannot provide performance bonuses to telemarketers based on money donated unless the donations are tied to compliance with this agreement and acceptable company policies.

The company must also record and store a certain number of solicitation calls and provide them to Miller's office upon request.

The respondents deny wrongdoing or liability of any kind.

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