“I’m not calling for a donation.” (But really, I am.)
Have you gotten this call?
You already may know that The Do Not Call Registry is designed to stop unwanted sales calls, but it has some exceptions. One exception allows for-profit fundraisers to call you on behalf of charities even if your telephone number is listed on the Do Not Call Registry. But when these charitable fundraisers call you, they must still follow the Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR).
They can't call you before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m.
They must promptly tell you the charity they’re calling for and tell you if the purpose of the call is to seek a donation.
They can’t make a false or misleading statement to persuade you to donate.
They can’t misrepresent information during the call, such as:
The fundraiser’s connection to the charity.
The mission or purpose of the charity.
Whether a donation is tax deductible.
How a donation will be used or how much of the donation actually goes to charity programs.
They can’t use a robocall or prerecorded message to reach you unless you have supported the charity in the past.
They also can’t call you again if you tell them that you don’t want any more calls from that charity.
So, when the FTC learned that a fundraiser that solicits charitable contributions was violating the TSR, the agency took action. The FTC alleges that InfoCision, Inc., violated the TSR by telling people at the beginning of telephone calls that the purpose of the call was not to ask for a donation. Instead, InfoCision asked people to hand-deliver to family, friends, or neighbors materials asking them to donate to a charity. Later in many of the same calls, InfoCision asked people to make a donation anyway.
InfoCision has agreed to a proposed settlement order with the FTC that prohibits future violations of the TSR and requires the company to pay $250,000 in civil penalties.
If you hear from fundraisers who don’t follow the rules, hang up and report them to the FTC. Reports that include information about what is said during the call, and the names of the fundraiser and the charity, can help law enforcement agencies put an end to unfair and misleading practices.
Colleen Tressler is a consumer education specialist for the FTC.