(DES MOINES, Iowa) A Minnesota professional fundraising group that raised money for several Iowa law enforcement associations has agreed to refrain from future fundraising in Iowa, as part of an agreement reached Tuesday with Attorney General Tom Miller.
Public Safety Council, LLP, and Community Safety, LLC, both headquartered in Minneapolis, their subcontractor, Safety Services, LLC, of St. Paul, and their principals, J. Michael Callan and Robert T. Callan, have entered into a formal agreement with the Attorney General, called an Assurance of Voluntary Compliance (AVC), to refrain from future fundraising or charitable solicitations directed to people or businesses in Iowa. The agreement takes effect immediately.
In December, these companies signed an AVC to change their fundraising practices in Iowa. However, Miller alleged that subsequent solicitations did not comply with the December AVC or Iowa law.
From a call center in St. Paul, telephone solicitors called Iowans on behalf of at least three Iowa law enforcement associations, including the Iowa State Police Association (ISPA), the Iowa State Reserve Law Officers Association (ISRLOA), and the Iowa Peace Officers Association (IPOA), which was formerly known as the Iowa Association of Chiefs of Police and Peace Officers.
In each case, the organizations received 15%-16% of donations, while fundraisers retained 84%-85%. Several calls, which were recorded by the Consumer Protection Division, revealed unfair and deceptive conduct, Miller has alleged. The fundraisers denied wrongdoing or liability of any kind.
Donor Beware! How to avoid charity fraud and make the most of your donations:
- Ask questions. Be wary of claims that the caller is a charity worker or volunteer, that most of your donation goes to the cause, or that your donation will be used locally.
- Don’t let a sympathetic charity name fool you – some fundraisers exaggerate or fabricate their support for veterans or military families, law enforcement, fire fighters, victims of disease, and children’s causes.
- Ask phone solicitors to send written information. 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” site – www.give.org.
- Don't give your credit card or checking account numbers over the phone to someone you don't know.
- Give directly to a known charity of your choice.
- Bottom line: Keep giving generously, but give wisely! Giving to a known charity you’re confident about is often the best option.
If you think you have been cheated by a fundraising scheme, contact the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division, Hoover Building, Des Moines, Iowa 50319. Call 515-281-5926, or 888-777-4590 toll free. Web site: www.IowaAttorneyGeneral.gov.