JOINT CONSUMER ALERT:
Office of Washington Attorney General Rob McKenna
Office of Secretary of State Sam Reed
Better Business Bureau serving Alaska, Oregon and Western Washington
TACOMA – The telemarketers’ pitch seems innocent enough: They want you to buy trash bags, light bulbs or gift cards at jacked-up prices. They claim your cash will help the homeless or support employment for those with disabilities. But state officials and consumer advocates are warning residents not to be misled by these sales calls.
State records show Jobs for the Homeless and American Homeless and Disadvantage Workers (sic), both located in Pierce County, aren’t properly registered as charities. That means they can’t suggest that money they collect from the sales of their products will be used for any benevolent purpose.
Jobs for the Homeless is a sole proprietorship run by David B. Archibald and lists a mailing address in Tacoma and a physical location Fife. Complaints filed with the Attorney General’s Office and the Better Business Bureau serving Alaska, Oregon and Western Washington suggest that consumers who agreed to give “donations” to the business in exchange for gift cards were mailed invoices stating they owed more money. In some cases, consumers said they never received the products they paid for.
American Homeless and Disadvantage Workers (sic), operated by Biancco M. Gardner, uses the same Tacoma mailing address and operates a similar business. Gardner told the Secretary of State’s Office he plans to register as a charity.
TIPS AND RESOURCES
1. Check out charities before you give.
- Secretary of State’s Office: Confirm a charity is registered and review its financial records at www.secstate.wa.gov/charities or call toll-free 1-800-332-4483. The office also publishes an annual report showing how much money commercial fundraisers give to their charitable clients and how much they keep.
- Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance: www.give.org
- American Institute of Philanthropy: www.charitywatch.org
- GuideStar: www.guidestar.org
- Charity Navigator: www.charitynavigator.org
- AARP Fraud Fighter Call Center: 1-800-646-2283. Receive free information about giving wisely.
- Attorney General’s Office: If you believe you are a victim of charity fraud, please contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Resource Center between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. weekdays at 1-800-551-4636 or file a complaint online.
2. Give to familiar organizations and those you trust.
3. Ask exactly how your money will be used.
4. Pay by check and protect your personal information.
5. Maintain records of your contributions. If a donation is “tax deductible,” you can deduct your contribution on your federal income tax return. Tax exempt simply means the organization doesn’t have to pay taxes.
6. Remove your name from mailing lists and telemarketing lists. Contact the Direct Marketing Association’s opt-out service at www.dmachoice.org. Register for the national Do Not Call list at www.donotcall.gov or 1-888-382-1222. Individuals with dementia or other cognitive impairments may be particularly vulnerable to solicitations, so caretakers should remove them from these lists.
Media Contacts: Kristin Alexander, AGO, (206) 464-6432, firstname.lastname@example.org
Niki Horace, BBB, (206) 431-2217 ext. 187, email@example.com
Christina Siderius, Secretary of State’s Office, (360) 902-4176, firstname.lastname@example.org