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June 16, 2021

Door-to-door sales organization agrees to cease solicitations in Iowa

Inner City Solutions claimed to raise money for local charities but had no affiliation with Blank Children's Hospital or the Animal Rescue League, AG’s Office alleged  

DES MOINES — A door-to-door sales organization that claimed to raise money for the Animal Rescue League and Blank Children's Hospital has agreed to stop doing business in Iowa, Attorney General Tom Miller announced.

In April and May 2021, the Attorney General’s Office received complaints that door-to-door solicitors from Inner City Solutions, a Georgia-based corporation, canvassed the Des Moines metro and surrounding areas. Representatives for the company sold items such as toys and pet supplies, claiming the proceeds would benefit the local charities.   

In reality, Inner City Solutions did not have an affiliation to the charities and kept the solicited funds for themselves, according to an assurance of voluntary compliance between the AG’s Office and its owner, Gerald L. Sanders.  

Sanders and the company denied they misled contributors or violated the law, but they agreed to permanently cease door-to-door sales and solicitations for alleged charitable purposes in Iowa.

“This agreement puts a stop to Inner City Solutions’ business in Iowa, and ends the company's claims it raises funds for local charities close to the hearts of many Iowans,”  Miller said.

In addition to allegations that Inner City Solutions misrepresented its relationship with local charities, the agreement claims the company failed to obtain peddler permits, register with the Attorney General’s Office or otherwise comply with state and local laws regulating door-to-door sales and charitable solicitations.  

Inner City Solutions  failed to comply with the Door-to-Door Sales Act by neglecting to provide consumers with a written three-day notice of their right to cancel the transactions or oral instructions of their right to cancel, according to the agreement.  

Sanders is an actor and rapper who goes by the moniker “Strike” and has appeared in films such as “8 Mile.”

The AG’s office reminds Iowans to be wary when approached for charitable contributions, and know their 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, or 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 complaint  

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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