A judge has barred an Osceola-based telemarketer from conducting fundraising in Iowa after the Attorney General’s office discovered the company using questionable practices. Attorney General’s Office spokesman, Geoff Greenwood says the family of a 73-year-old widow with Alzheimer’s disease contacted the A-G’s Consumer Protection Division about concerns over telemarketing calls the woman was receiving.
The A-G’s office used the woman’s phone number to record one of the calls. A caller from Telequal said she was calling on behalf of an organization “A Child’s Dream” and claimed they help terminally ill children throughout Iowa who have cancer, cystic fibrosis or leukemia.
Greenwood says the woman’s story had several things in it that were deceiving. “We’ve got a telemarketer who’s making all these claims that she’s calling from the charity when she’s actually a fundraiser. She says that this charity focuses primarily on sick Iowa children, we know that’s not true,” Greenwood says.
“And claims that most of the donations — or at least a lot of the donations go to the kids — and that’s not true. About 85-percent of every dollar donated goes to the telemarketer and not the sick children.” Greenwood says they sought legal action after hearing the phone call.
He says once the company was confronted, they decided to stop operating in Iowa, and they wanted to be sure the company did not reopen, or move to another state and start calling Iowa again. Greenwood says the judge’s order will ensure they are barred from making calls again in Iowa.
Greenwood says there are other organizations that are raising funds, but take more of the money than they hand over to charity. “You know it’s very difficult sometimes to discern a legitimate charity from a sound-alike charity. And in this case, the name sounds very impressive, it sounds like the are helping kids who need help, but in fact it’s money going to a telemarketer,” according to Greenwood.
“What we advise people is that just because it is a sympathetic sounding name, don’t take that for granted, check into the charity.” He says it’s important to get as much background as you can on anyone who wants you to make a donation.
“Just do some digging. Ask some questions if someone calls you,” he explains. Greenwood says you should ask how the organization is spending the money, how much of the donation is going to the cause. He says a good organization will not have a problem with sending you information on what they are doing.
Greenwood says you can also stick with donations to local charities that you know and can see what they are doing with your donation. If you think you or a loved one may have been cheated by a fundraising scheme, contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division through the Attorney General’s website at: www.IowaAttorneyGeneral.gov.
You can also call: 515-281-5926, or toll-free at 888-777-4590.