Now, every few months there's another article in the paper about phone scammers who are calling around claiming to represent police or firefighters' charitable organizations. It sounded like this "Police Protective Fund" might be another one of these. The truth, it turns out, is a little more complicated.
Some internet sleuthing revealed that the Police Protective Fund is a legitimate charitable organization - exempting it from the restrictions of the state and federal "Do Not Call" lists - though it dances on the very edge of the definitions of "legitimate" and "charitable". According to reports on the internet, more than 90% of the donations taken in by this organization are skimmed - er, consumed - by overhead, administrative, and fundraising costs. Most local police forces have never even heard of the group, let alone received any of the donations sent to the Police Protective Fund on their behalf.
But Attorneys General and consumer groups have heard of them. The organization has been sued in various locations for its questionable practices. And many reports abound of aggressive, belligerent, harassing, and abusive behavior by people making calls on behalf of the organization - including, of course, the repeated hang up calls received by Michelle.
I haven't gotten any of these calls yet. When I've gotten similar calls in the past, I've always been brief, blunt, and firm with them, never using words like "please" or "thank you" that can be recorded and presented out of context. If I do get one of these calls, I'm thinking I might say something like "Give me your name and a callback number. I'll check this out with my neighbor, the Chief of Police, to see what he has to say." I don't know how they'll respond. But from what I've read online, I expect to be cursed at, and then keep getting the calls.
mhryvnak.net/blog/ : FYI - Possible NEPA Scammer - BEWARE!
nuvo.net: Who are these guys?
consumeraffairs.com: Police fund-raisers accused of fraud
Dover Post: When giving to charities, beware of fraud
Missouri Attorney General Jay Nixon: Law enforcement telemarketer sued in Missouri
Notable quote from linked news release:
Nixon says PPF took in more than $5.9 million in nationwide donations last year but only paid $37,000 through the benefits program to the families of police officers killed in 2006. Consumers who are solicited are not told that the benefits paid are limited to the first four officers who die in the line of duty in a calendar year, and that the benefits are capped at a total of $40,000 annually. The organization’s IRS filings show that more than $3.7 million of the $5.9 million PPF raised in 2006 was paid to professional fundraisers. From 2002 through 2006, PPF received more than $24 million in donations nationwide.
In addition, several consumers complained to the Attorney General’s Office that callers representing PPF often employed rude and intimidating tactics in order to obtain donations, and made repeated calls to consumers who asked not to be called.
cvillenews.com: Beware the Police Protective Fund
charitynavigator.com rating: 0 stars