Thursday, May 24, 2007

Rip Off Advisory

Americans are some of the most generous people on the planet. It is estimated that the American public gave over $240 billion in 2003 to over a million organizations. So it burns me when individuals seek to enrich themselves by masquerading as a charity to get into your wallet. Trust me, most states make it completely illegal for a police officer to ask for donations, although they may hire a coordinator to solict funds for them. Be advised, these fund raisers usually keep at least 50% of the donations for themselves as fees.

The following is an advisory from the NY State Police Superintendent Felton regarding charitable donations to his agency, but his advice extends to any organization that purports to represent law enforcement.

In response to periodic inquiries from the public, New York State Police Acting Superintendent Preston L. Felton advises state residents that neither the State Police , nor any agency authorized by it, ever solicits donations from the general public. A number of organizations with police-styled names conduct fund-raising campaigns in which they solicit monetary donations for various purposes.

Solicitors appeal for dollars to help support law enforcement initiatives, such as the purchase of safety equipment, charitable summer camp programs or anti-DWI campaigns. A recent example of the results of an investigation into the questionable practices of a telemarketer soliciting for a purported charity using the name, The Fraternal Order of New York State Troopers,resulted in the fund-raising corporation and its owner being barred from soliciting charitable contributions in New York State and required the Fraternal Order to pay its remaining donations to a legitimate charity.

The New York State Police receives its funding through the State Budget and does not solicit public donations. The only organization authorized to accept donations on behalf of the New York State Police is the not-for-profit Trooper Foundation, Inc., headquartered in Latham, NY. Although the Trooper Foundation does accept donations for the State Police Summer Program (to benefit underprivileged children) and other State Police initiatives, it does not engage in telephone solicitations to the general public.

The New York State Office of the Attorney General investigates illegal and questionable telemarketing operations in New York State. Anyone who receives a solicitation by telephone, mail, email or in person, from someone seeking money and who purports to be a representative or employee of the New York State Police, or suggests an affiliation with the New York State Police, is advised to get as many details as possible about the caller and to report this to the New York State Attorney Generals Charities Bureau or the nearest Attorney Generals Office.

As a matter of crime prevention, people should be wary of solicitors who:

Do not provide an address or phone number;
Demand immediate payment orpayment in cash;
Seem vague as to how contributions will be spent;
Refuse to provide financial information about a charitable organization;
Appear angry or impatient when asked reasonable questions about theorganization they represent or the programs for which contributions will be used.

More tips on charitable giving can be found at the NY State Attorney General's website,

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