A Florida-based telemarketer has reached a settlement with the state to change the way it raises money for firefighters. Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller says the Xentel was hired to raise money for the Iowa Professional Firefighters Association, but claimed during calls they were raising money for the local fire department of whoever answered the phone. Miller says the state sued to get them to tell the truth in their calls. He says the settlement will provide that they have to clean up their act. He says the people making the calls can’t imply that they’re firefighters, and they can’t imply the money is going directly to local firefighters, because it’s not. Miller says there are other restrictions as well. He says they can’t pay commissions to the people making the calls, unless those commission are forfeited when the callers misrepresent themselves. He says they can’t send out pledge calls to people who didn’t make pledges, and can’t imply in any way they’re calling locally. Miller says Xentel returns only 26 cents of every dollar raised the I-F-P-A under an agreement with that group. Miller says that fundraising method caused many departments to split away from the group. Clive Fire Chief Rick Roe help alert the Attorney General to Xentel’s tactics after he got a fundraising call at the fire station. He says he knew of the deceptive tactics and played along with the call and when they alluded to the fact that the money would come back to his department, he filed a formal complaint with the Attorney General’s office. Roe says he got nowhere when he tried to deal with the company during the call. He says he advised them that he was the chief and that they never received any money from them. He says he asked to speak to the telemarketer’s supervisor and the telemarketer said he didn’t know who that was and hung up. Roe says the lawsuit should help end the practice. He says firefighters are well trusted and supported by the community and you had a company that was taking advantage of that trust. He says this cleans up the fundraising and lets people know that donations are welcome. He says if you want to make a donation, take it directly to the local fire department. The settlement will require the company to tape its phone calls for review if needed by the state, and the company will also pay the state 30-thousand dollars.
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