Akron-based InfoCision Management Corp. this spring signed an Assurance of Discontinuance with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office regarding its professional solicitation services on behalf of various charitable organizations.
“Charitable contributions are vital to our communities, and donors must be confident their funds are properly and honestly solicited,” Attorney General Mike DeWine said in relation to the InfoCision case.
An investigation by the Attorney General’s Charitable Law Section found reason to believe InfoCision violated several sections of the Ohio Charitable Organizations Act, including making misleading statements and failing to make required disclosures during the course of charitable solicitations, and failing to comply with statutory filing requirements. InfoCision denies the Attorney General’s conclusions that it violated the law, and these facts were never litigated. However the settlement agreement was reached in order to resolve the matter.
In the assurance, InfoCision agreed to fully abide by the state’s laws on soliciting charitable contributions from Ohioans by:
Stopping all misleading behavior and misrepresentations as to the percentage of donations that a charity will receive
Submitting a copy of a sample script and sample pledge form to the Attorney General before starting a solicitation campaign during the next two years
Submitting at least 15 audio recordings of its solicitation calls to the Attorney General monthly for the next year
Clearly and conspicuously disclosing its status as a professional solicitor, its name, and the charity’s name and address during solicitations
Paying stipulated penalties for any future violations of filing and disclosure requirements
In addition, InfoCision will pay $75,000 to the Attorney General’s Office to be distributed for charitable purposes.
Attorney General DeWine reminds potential donors to ask questions about who is calling and what their connection to the charity is when they receive calls seeking donations. Professional solicitors, who are paid by charities to solicit on their behalf, must provide basic information about the charity and its location in addition to their own name, their status as a professional solicitor and, if requested, the percentage of gross revenue that will be retained by the charity.
Citizens are urged to ask for written information in advance of making a gift and to refrain from sharing bank or credit card information on unexpected telephone calls. Consumers also should not provide bank or credit card information over the phone. Warning signs of a bogus charity include overly aggressive or pushy tactics, callers who are unable or unwilling to answer questions, callers who offer to pick up contributions, or callers who suggest there are prizes awarded for contributions. At any point during a call, consumers are encouraged to hang up if they feel uncomfortable.
Consumers can get additional information about wise giving strategies or access lists of registered professional solicitors in Ohio by visiting www.OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov
or calling 800-282-0515. Consumers are urged to contact the office with information about fraudulent or worrisome charitable solicitations by filing an online charitable complaint or calling the office.