June 3, 2016

Consumer News Consumer Protection Class Action

Fundraiser for Veterans’ Charity Harassed and Misled Donors

Even organizations that purport a good cause can use abusive, aggressive and illegal tactics against consumers. This is the subject of a Minnesota lawsuit against a company that solicited charitable donations for veterans and misled donors.

Campaigns Targeted Seniors and Veterans
According to the lawsuit, Michigan-based Associated Community Services Inc. (ACS) and its affiliate, Central Processing Services, LLC, used aggressive and deceptive solicitation practices to prey on seniors, veterans and their families in order to obtain donations for the Foundation for American Veterans. The lawsuit, filed by Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson in Hennepin County, alleges ACS and its affiliate violated state charity and consumer protection laws by sending false pledge reminders, misleading donors into believing they were speaking directly to the charity and making other deceptive claims to solicit donations.

ACS has been the subject of at least 10 legal settlements in other states related to its failure to disclose its professional fundraiser status and for sending fake pledge reminders. According to the State, these pledge reminders were intended to guilt people into donating money.

Foundation for American Veterans Also Under Investigation
The investigation found that the Foundation for American Veterans is comprised of only two employees who collected $38.5 million between 2010 and 2014. The Foundation paid ACS and its affiliate more than $27 million while only 10 percent of donations actually went to help veterans.

Have you been harassed by a charity or non-profit?
Since 2011, at least 28,000 Minnesotans have donated over $900,000 to the Foundation for American Veterans. More than 35,000 requested ACS put them on the Foundation’s do-not-call list. If you believe you have been targeted by this campaign or harassed by a charity or non-profit, you have the right to take legal action.

I am being repeatedly harassed for donations—what can I do?
If you believe a charitable organization has been harassing you and you have been the target of repeated calls for donations, you should collect any available information — including phone numbers, contact information, the name of the organization — and document the number of phone calls and mailings you have received. An experienced lawyer can review this information and help you take legal action. Remedies may include financial compensation.

What are the rights of consumers targeted by charities?
Consumers have the right to protect themselves in the event an organization violates state charity and consumer protection laws. Lawsuits can stop these charities from engaging in illegal collection practices and secure monetary damages for victims.

Feeling pressured to donate? Harassed by scam charities? You may have a legal claim.
Wanta Thome Jozwiak & Wanta LLP is currently investigating legal claims related to aggressive fundraising tactics and deceptive practices by scam charity organizations. We are dedicated to helping consumers in Minnesota protect their rights and pursue all available remedies in the event of illegal solicitation practices. Please call 612-252-3570 to discuss your case with our St. Paul and Minneapolis employment law attorneys.