Fundraiser settles with Michigan attorney general

By Bryan Cohen | Mar 3, 2014

LANSING, Mich. (Legal Newsline) - Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette announced a $45,000 settlement on Wednesday with a Southfield-based professional fundraiser to resolve allegations it used deceptive practices to convince seniors to donate money.

Associated Community Services allegedly used the name of Schuette's office to convince senior citizens to contribute credit card information via fundraising calls. Schuette's Charitable Trust Section received a complaint against ACS in January 2013 from a former ACS employee who alleged the company was using a misleading telemarketing script. The script allegedly emphasized that ACS was on file with Schuette's office if a donor said he or she didn't want to donate by credit card over the phone.

Schuette alleged the fact that ACS is on file with his office says nothing about the company's ability to protect credit card information. ACS allegedly engaged in at least 14 calls in which it used the misleading credit card rebuttal. Schuette alleged ACS committed 230 violations of the Charitable Organizations and Solicitations Act in total.

"Any telemarketer that tries to trick our greatest generation with deceptive tactics must face the consequences," Schuette said. "Michigan law requires honesty of our professional fundraisers. We will not tolerate those that abuse the name of this office to deceive donors."

In May, Schuette issued a cease and desist order and a notice of intended action against ACS. ACS agreed to stop using the allegedly misleading credit card rebuttal and submitted a written response denying wrongdoing.

The $45,000 settlement with ACS came after months of negotiations. Under the terms of the agreement, ACS must also revised the disputed script for future solicitations.

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