The Florida Sheriffs Youth Ranches, Inc., and the Florida Sheriffs Association offer a warning to citizens who might be targeted by telemarketers soliciting donations. Even though it is legal for organizations and associations to solicit by telephone, the Florida Sheriffs Youth Ranches and the Florida Sheriffs Association do not endorse fund raising projects or advertising sales conducted by telephone and do not find it an acceptable practice for any organization representing a law enforcement group or association.
Individuals who receive solicitations by telephone are suggested to use the following precautions:
- Ask questions. Honest businesses don't mind questions. Ask the solicitor what percentage of funds raised actually goes to the charity and what goes to fund raising.
- Do not buy or pledge anything by phone. Ask for the offer or donation request to be mailed to you in writing before you send money. Be very cautious of anyone using "runners" to pick up contributions to avoid using the United States mail.
- Any reputable organization should be happy to furnish you with a copy of their annual report. Also, ask for a copy of the IRS letter stating that the organization is a 501(c)3 tax exempt organization.
- If the caller says they are representing a certain law enforcement group or organization, have them furnish you with the law enforcement agency that is sponsoring the fund raising endorsement.
- Do not be fooled by promotional materials that look "official" or use names similar to well known companies or government agencies.
A copy of the official registration and financial information of recognized charities may be obtained from the Division of Consumer Services by calling toll-free within the state 1-800-HELP FLA (435-7352).
You can also be put on the "No Sales Solicitation Calls" list by call 1-800-HELP FLA (435-7352) or by visiting their website at http://www.800helpfla.com.