March 9, 2021
In 2015, the FTC and state partners sued and shut down four sham charities that harassed millions of people with more than 1.3 billion illegal robocalls about donating to charity. The FTC and 46 charity state regulators from 38 states and the District of Columbia are holding the fundraisers that made those illegal calls accountable in a lawsuit announced today.
According to the FTC, Associated Community Services (and some related companies and individuals) called more than 67 million people using illegal pre-recorded messages. Those messages falsely claimed the money would go to support breast cancer patients, the families of children with cancer, homeless veterans, and other people in need. In reality, the FTC says that almost none of the more than $110 million donated between 2016 and 2018 went to help those causes.
The next time you get a call with a pre-recorded message from charity fundraisers, remember these tips:
- Don’t trust your caller ID. Dishonest fundraisers can make calls look like they’re from your local area code to get you to answer.
- Hang up if you get a robocall with a pre-recorded message from a charity you don’t know. It’s illegal for a charity to call you with pre-recorded messages, unless you’ve donated to them before. In that case, the caller must tell you that you can opt out of future calls and give you a way to do that.
- Don’t be rushed. A legitimate charity won’t pressure you and will take your donation at any time.
- Ask questions. Ask the fundraiser for the charity’s exact name, web address, and mailing address, so you can confirm it later. And ask exactly how much of your donated dollars will be spent on the charitable cause.