State Agencies Partner to Warn Consumers of Telemarketing Scams

Tuesday, February 20, 2007 | 6:00pm

NASHVILLE, Tenn., — The Tennessee Division of Consumer Affairs and the Tennessee Highway Patrol would like to warn consumers about charitable phone solicitations that have recently occurred.

Consumers in the Chattanooga area have questioned calls that they have received soliciting money on behalf of the Tennessee Highway Patrol.  In one report, the caller claimed that they were soliciting money for the family of Trooper Calvin Jenks, who was killed in the line of duty earlier this year.  Other callers have claimed to be soliciting money on behalf of the State Troopers or the Tennessee Highway Patrol.

“The Tennessee Highway Patrol wants citizens to know that we are a government agency and do not solicit charitable donations,” said Colonel Mike Walker.  “However, we do understand that there are organizations in which some of our personnel may be members that perform legitimate charity works.”

“We want consumers to be cautious of these scams and make sure they research the charity before making a donation,” said Mary Clement, Director for the Tennessee Division of Consumer Affairs.  “We encourage consumers to report possible scams to their local police department or contact our office.”

Consumer Affairs and the THP both advise that they are aware of only one legitimate Memorial Fund on behalf Trooper Jenks that has been setup through AmSouth Bank in Tennessee.

Here are a few tips consumers should consider before making any charitable contribution:

  • Check to see that the charity is registered with the Tennessee Charitable Solicitations Division and also check with your local Better Business Bureau before donating.
  • Be wary of appeals that are long on emotion but short on what the charity will do to address the needs of recipients.
  • Ask how much of your gift or contribution would be used for the purpose mentioned in the appeal, and how much would go towards administrative and fund-raising costs.
  • Find out what the charity intends to do with any excess contributions remaining after the needs of the recipients are addressed.
  • While there may be a sense of urgency to the appeal, remember there will be opportunities to give to other charities in the future.
  • Beware of charlatans who telephone and pose as members of a reputable charity. Their appeal may sound sincere and their organization may sound worthy. However, it’s best to ask that more information be mailed to you so you can research the charity before you decide. If the caller refuses, don’t donate, simply hang up. And, most importantly, never give out your credit card or bank account number to someone who calls you.

If you would like to file a complaint, please feel free to call Consumer Affairs toll-free at 1-800-342-8385 or visit www.tennessee.gov/consumer .

Commerce & Insurance