News & Updates

 

Wise Giving Wednesday: Charity Fraud Telefunding Operation Shut Down

Mar 10, 2021

On March 4, 2021, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) along with 38 U.S. States and the District of Columbia announced a shutdown of a telefunding operation accused of carrying out deceptive robocalls for charity. The telefunding firm, Associated Community Services (ACS) and related defendants, allegedly made more than 1.3 billion fundraising calls to more than 67 million phone numbers. As explained in the complaint, “Defendants knowingly duped generous Americans into donating tens of millions of dollars to nonprofit organizations they claimed helped breast cancer patients, the families of children with cancer, homeless veterans, fire victims, and more. In reality, almost no money went to the charitable purposes…described to donors.” In some instances, these companies kept as much as 90 cents of every dollar solicited. In addition, the complaint filed by the cited government agencies accused ACS of harassment for calling 1.3 million phone numbers more than ten times in a single week and more than 500 phone numbers were called 5,000 or more times.

As reported by the FTC, “the defendants will be permanently prohibited from conducting or consulting on any fundraising activities and from conducting telemarketing of any kind to sell goods or services.” They were also subject to a monetary judgment of $110 million which was suspended due to an inability to pay.

BBB Wise Giving Alliance encourages donors to always check out charities with Give.org before making a giving decision.  We also offer donors the following advice on handling telephone appeals:

1. Never give your credit card number or other personal financial information to unknown callers.

2. Ask who’s calling--a professional solicitor or an employee of the charity? If the call is from a telemarketing company, ask what percentage of your gift the charity will receive.

3. Get the name straight. Many organizations raising money for the same cause have names similar enough to confuse donors, sometimes intentionally.

4. Ask for specifics about the charity, if it’s unfamiliar. The caller should be able to tell you the organization’s purpose, whether contributions to it are tax deductible, how a gift will be used and how much of it will go to the charity’s program. 

5. Resist pressure. A responsible charity respects your right to make a thoughtful decision.

6. Opt out of future calls from the soliciting charity, if you wish. The national Do Not Call Registry does not generally apply to charity calls, but you have the right to ask a telemarketer not to call again on behalf of a particular charity.


Video of the Week

As part of our Building Trust Video Series, we are pleased to provide a video featuring Chung Wha Hong, Executive Director of Grassroots International, a BBB Accredited Charity that supports small farmers and producers, Indigenous Peoples and women around the world to give access to the human rights to land, water and food.  The organization has particular focus on Brazil, Haiti, Mesoamerica, the Middle East and West Africa.


Recent Reports

We are always working with charities to publish or update reports for donors. Visit Give.org or local BBBs to check out any charity before giving. Our recently evaluated charities include:

Finally, remember to let us know by going to www.give.org/charity-inquiry if you are interested in seeing a report on a charity not on the list and we will do our best to produce one.

H. Art Taylor, President & CEO
BBB Wise Giving Alliance