November 12, 1998
You know the old adage – It's better to give than to receive.
Well, it's true, except when the gift doesn't go to the intended recipient.
Here's what happens:
You get the call. Could you – would you – send a contribution to support the local police department ... a local children's health charity ... the neighborhood firefighters...
Welcome to the donation dilemma. You'd like to give, but how do you make sure the appeal is legitimate? The fact is, fraudulent fundraisers are telephoning people every day, misrepresenting their ties to local service organizations and capitalizing on consumers' sense of community.
Today, the Federal Trade Commission, along with 40 states, and AARP, announce “OPERATION MISSED GIVING,” a national law enforcement and consumer education campaign to shut down deceptive fundraisers and help consumers detect fraudulent telephone solicitations.
Here with me today to get out this message is Richard Blumenthal, Connecticut Attorney General; Charles Mendoza, an AARP National Board Member; Chuck Lange, Executive Director of the Arkansas Sheriffs’ Association; and Ms. Linda Pelissier, of Stoneham, Massachusetts.
The FTC is seeking preliminary relief in federal court against two companies that we allege are engaging in deceptive fundraising activities. The telefunders for these companies misrepresent how the donations will be used, especially that the money will benefit local programs. Consumer injury in these two cases likely totals at least $10 to $12 million annually.
To help consumers give wisely, we offer a few tips:
Now, I am pleased to introduce Attorney General Richard Blumenthal who will speak to you as a representative of the states and their involvement in “Operation Missed Giving.”
Charles Mendoza, from AARP, will announce the results of a national survey commissioned by AARP on the charitable giving habits of Americans. Charles also will describe AARP’s reverse boiler room operation that is going on next door.
Chuck Lange, from the Arkansas Sheriffs’ Association will discuss his organization's efforts to combat deceptive fundraising.
And Ms. Linda Pelissier, from Stoneham, Massachusetts, whose efforts to benefit a local Veterans group were frustrated by an out-of-state solicitor.
Before we take questions, I would like to welcome: Bennett M. Weiner, Vice President and Director of the Philanthropic Advisory Service, National Council of Better Business Bureaus; Daniel Borochoff, President of the American Institute of Philanthropy; George Berg, Director of Communications, International Association of Fire Fighters; and Stephen Simpson, Sheriff of Loudoun County, Virginia, representing the National Sheriffs' Association.
All have graciously offered to make themselves available at the conclusion of the opening statements to help answer your questions.
*This may not be an exact transcript of Ms. Bernstein's remarks.