Minnesota AG sues fundraising firms for veteran charities

- Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson filed a lawsuit in Hennepin County against two Michigan companies alleging they’ve misled donors in soliciting money for a veterans charity.

The state of Minnesota is suing Associated Community Services and its affiliate, Central Processing Services, which solicit donations for Foundation of American Veterans. According the lawsuit, Associated Community Services made fundraising calls to potential donors and then sent “pledge reminders” that falsely indicated that people had pledged to donate when they hadn’t. Many of the people who received fake pledge reminders were senior citizens, some on fixed incomes. 

One Minnesota woman reported that Associated Community Services asked her for a donation and, when she refused, questioned whether she was “grateful for the sacrifices that disabled veterans have made for our country.” She asked to be put on a do not call list, and the caller hung up. Then, she was instructed to donate if she wanted the calls to stop.

Another Minnesota couple received a false claim they had pledged to donate $20 to the foundation, then received two pledge reminders in the mail. The company then called them multiple times a week for several weeks.
According to the lawsuit, Associated Community Services and its affiliates receive about 85 percent of the cash donations made to the Foundation for American Veterans. About 10 percent of money donations go toward aiding veterans.

At least 28,000 Minnesotans donated at least $929,000 to Foundation for American Veterans since 2011.  More than 35,000 Minnesotans asked Associated Community Services to put them on the Foundation’s do-not-call list.

Tips for donors from the Attorney General’s Office:

-Give to charities they know with a proven track record

-Ask telemarketers if they are the charity or a fundraising company, and if they are a fundraising company, what percentage of the donation goes to the fundraising company

-Take time to research a charity and do not feel compelled to immediately donate in response to a telemarketing call.

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