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May 14, 2021

Door-to-door solicitations: ensure your donations go to your chosen cause

Blank, ARL warn that solicitor is not affiliated with them


As the weather warms, communities around Iowa are beginning to see more individuals and groups going door-to-door.   

In recent weeks, the Attorney General's office has received reports of such activity. Consumers report that an individual has approached their homes selling items, the proceeds of which they claim will benefit organizations such as the Animal Rescue League or Blank Children's Hospital.  

Both the ARL and Blank Children's Hospital report they are not affiliated with this individual or fundraising endeavor.  

Tom Colvin, CEO of Animal Rescue League, stated: “The Animal Rescue League of Iowa (ARL) relies on the support of individuals to care for over 10,000 animals each year, so we are saddened to learn that this generosity and desire to help animals is being exploited by individuals who do not represent the ARL in any capacity. The ARL has never collected door-to-door donations and we also do not collect donations over the phone, so anyone claiming to do so is not doing it with our consent. The safest and most secure way to donate to the ARL is directly through several payment options via our website (www.ARL-Iowa.org/donate) or in-person/by-mail at our main location (5452 NE 22nd Street, Des Moines, IA 50313).  We are proud to be a part of such a caring community and are grateful to those who reported this concerning activity!” 

Alissa McKinney, Senior Director of Development, Blank Children’s Hospital, stated: "Over the past two weeks, we have received calls regarding individuals soliciting donations on behalf of Blank Children’s Hospital. This is a scam. These individuals are going door-to-door and will not accept check or credit card. They claim to be helping kids in the hospital, and they get a percentage of the donation. Blank Children’s Hospital is not working with any outside organizations to raise money. Community members interested in making a donation to Blank Children’s Hospital can visit our website to ensure your gift is supporting patients."

Be wary when approached for charitable contributions, and know your rights when it comes to door-to-door solicitations.  

Follow these tips to protect yourself from fundraising and charity abuses:

  • Don’t be fooled by a familiar name: Some operations claim to raise money on behalf of well-known groups and organizations, yet provide them with very little to no support.

    Contact the organization the solicitor claims to be raising funds for to ensure your donations are going to the cause. If a charity’s name sounds similar, but not identical, to a charity you’re familiar with, contact the charity you know to check it out.

    Giving directly to your charity of choice is the safest way to ensure your money goes to the cause you wish to support.
     
  • Ask questions: Be wary of claims that the solicitor is a charity worker or volunteer, that most of your donation goes to the cause, or that your donation will be used locally.

    Some charities hire professional fundraisers who collect fundraising fees from donations. Ask if he or she is a volunteer or a professional fundraiser. If it’s a professional fundraiser, ask how much of your donation actually goes to the charity. If you’re dealing with the charity directly, ask how much of your donation goes toward administrative expenses. If you don’t get straight answers, don’t give.
     
  • Ask phone solicitors to send written information: Check out the charity before you make a decision. Be suspicious if they insist on a pledge before they’ll send you information.  Check them out at the national Better Business Bureau “Wise Giving Alliance” site – www.give.org or check with www.charitynavigator.org.
     
  • Say no to high-pressure solicitors: They’re likely not working on behalf of a legitimate charity or professional fundraiser. If they offer to send someone to pick up your donation, ask you to use an overnight service or request you to wire your donation, tell them no.
     
  • Be wary of solicitors thanking you for past contributions you don’t recall.
     
  • Be wary of solicitors who ask for donations in cash only.  
     
  •  Don't give your credit card or checking account numbers over the phone to someone you don't know.
     
  • Trust your instinct if something doesn’t seem right.  
     
  • Give wisely! Giving to a known charity you’re confident about is often the best option.


Know your Right to Cancel:

You have the right to cancel most transactions of $25 or more at your home or workplace within three business days so long as the transactions cover goods or services that are purchased, leased or rented primarily for personal, family of household purposes and occurred at a place other than the seller’s place of business (such as your doorstep).  

You may cancel for any reason or no reason at all.  

In Iowa, the right to cancel also covers sales at any temporary place other than the seller’s normal place of business, including a rented hotel, convention facility, warehouse or fairgrounds, and sales by people who approach you in public places.  

The seller must tell you of your right to cancel and provide you written notice. If the seller does not provide you with a written notice of your right to cancel in the manner required by law, the sale is void.  

If you properly cancel, the seller must refund your money. This right to cancel does not apply to sales conducted entirely by telephone or mail, requests for in-home repairs to personal property, and certain “emergency” purchases where you waive your right to cancel in writing.

File a report: 

If you have a similar report please contact the Iowa Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division at consumer@ag.iowa.gov or 515-281-5926 (in Des Moines area) or 888-777-4590 (outside the metro area).

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