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A false appeal to your sense of charity

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If you get a call asking you to give to a charity, you might be tempted to say yes without a second thought. But as with any call you get from someone asking for money out of the blue, pause and do some research to avoid fraudsters who try to take advantage of your generosity.

Unfortunately, there are for-profit companies — like American Handicapped and Disadvantaged Workers, Inc. (AHDW) — that pretend to be charitable organizations and lie about how they use donations. The FTC sued AHDW for deceiving people.

Here’s the story: AHDW’s telemarketers called and asked people to donate — either by giving money or buying overpriced household products from them. These telemarketers, often falsely claiming to be disabled themselves, implied that most of the money raised would be used to pay wages to disabled employees at the company. And as a bonus, people were told they’d get a free gift in the mail for donating.

In reality, most of the telemarketers weren’t disabled, and only a small portion of the company’s earnings were paid to AHDW’s few disabled employees. And those free gifts people got in the mail? They came with invoices, followed by harassing calls demanding payment for products people never ordered.

If you get a call about buying overpriced products to support a charity:

  • Do some research. Confirm an organization is really a charity before committing to spend extra money. That “charity” might be a for-profit company trying to trick you into overpaying for things you routinely buy. You can search for names on this list of tax-exempt organizations from the IRS, or check with the BBB or your state Attorney General.
  • Don’t pay for unordered merchandise. You can keep any gifts you get in the mail from a charitable organization that asks for contributions. If you didn’t order it, you don’t have to pay for it — even if someone sends a bill or calls you saying otherwise.

It’s legal for charities to call and ask for donations, even if your number is on the Do Not Call Registry. But it’s against the law for telemarketers to imply they’re from a charitable organization when they’re not. For more tips on spotting a charity scam, check out our article Before Giving to a Charity.

Updated on June 29, 2016 to reflect that the FTC did not shut down American Handicapped and Disadvantaged Workers, Inc.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit


They are always saying me to wire them 300to3,0000 dollars cause I am owing back taxes for I have won3.5million dollars and a me sides bentz car, also a brand new washer and dryer. You have to pay taxes for the money you,ve have won.

The other day I got a call from Telefund. They kept calling everyday 2 or 3 times a day, sometimes close to 9:00 p.m. So, finally I answered and after his little speech, I told him I can't give and please remove me from your call list! Will see if he took me off his list!

hello till now atleast 10 surveys i have done but no money after taking the survey some say charity,others you got points & sometimes try next time it is waste of time

I've known for a long time that I didn't have to pay for anything I didn't order. But I'm afraid a lot of people don't know that. Please EMPATHIZE that fact in your newsletters.

Thank you for all the information.

I received in the mail a card offering to send a sample product free of charge. A month after sending it in, I received in the mail 2 jars of the product along with a $40 invoice. I sent a letter with the invoice explaining that I expected a free sample and had not ordered it.

It has become impossible for me to trust any person, business, or government agency due to the practices of people like these. Checking before giving is something I always do, but I never do it on the phone or online. My stolen ID is being used sporadically so I wait, write to the address given for the company found by me in different ways online such as checking the FTC and other government agencies. If I hear back and they are legit I give them a one time donation with a money order. If you use a credit card online or your visa debit card you are asking for it. There is no such thing as a "secure" site on the web. Use your head, be careful, do your homework. It won't totally protect you but it may help. The BBB recently was investigated and found to be giving good ratings to companies who pay them. Obviously not every BBB in all cities do this, but some do. If in doubt do not use them as a resource for correct information on any business. I no longer use them at all for verification purposes. Stay safe everyone.

Great information! Thank you.

The Do Not Call Registry (DNCR) and law *must* be changed to allow consumers to opt out of solicitation from any organization contacting me to advertise ANYTHING. This includes, seeking my *opinion* or action with regard to a "charity", proposed bill, TV show, product, help stop the pending IRS-related lawsuit, survey related to a product or service, vote, or a person. Technology and lack of staff & resource has undermined enforcement of the current laws on the DNCR. Add in robocalls from overseas call centers claiming to be Microsoft who only want to remove that virus from my PC, calls that show MY caller ID, and Robot conversationalists and see just how ineffective is the current paradigm.

I whole heartedly agree

How do they know we are disabled &seniors? I get calls everyday from scammers:(!I've asked my husband to just hang up on them also. Thank you,F.T.C.;)

Just received a call from someone with a Middle Eastern accent saying they were from Microsoft. Told him to jump in the lake and hang up.

These telemarketer/scam/fraud and robo callers must be stopped. I'm at a point where if I get 15 calls a day, 10 are from one of these bottom-feeders. The only way to stop them is to force the phone companies to put an end to them. The phone companies will never move on this as long as it's a cash cow for them. The DNC list is nothing but an action list for these scam artists. Put pressure on the phone companies!

Reference # 73201138 The main question I ask last week did Dean Smith & John Public Head of Operation they claim work for FTC. I need to know this 573-xxx.xxxx text or call or email this very important. I need an answer ASAP please

If you want to know if someone works for the FTC, you can call the FTC at (202) 326-2222.

No just me


I've resorted to muting the volume on my home phone and changing the settings to ring once. These days we can't even trust the caller id feature. If the caller leaves me a message I may call back, otherwise the the caller will hang up and move on. Scammers are developing new methods to take to your money and will do so without hesitation. Empower yourself to not fall victim.

Have your answering machine answer ALL your calls. Return calls only to those you want to talk to. It's that simple. Imagine that, Since I have my number on the DNC list, I get more calls!!!

I got a call today from the NC State Fraternal Order of Police who wanted me to give them my credit or debit card info over the phone--pressured me into a donation. After I wouldn't give him my credit/debit info, he said he'd mail me something but wanted a definite dollar amount I'd give. I finally told him $10 since I'd just had my A/C go out last week. I'm a widow on SS and a pension. I was in a hurry to get off the phone as I hadn't even eaten my breakfast; should not have answered the phone. I was raised in the South and I'm too polite (going to have to work on that!). I looked at the area code and thought it was a cousin. Anyway, after doing some research which led me to this page, I do not feel any obligation to send them anything when I receive their papers. I updated my Do Not Call registration. I won't be answering any more calls!

I did away with a house phone years ago. Only have a cell phone and I do not get those crazy calls anymore.

The " No Call List" seems to be working for me and a friend.
By the way, your Captcha is difficult to read, even with 20/20 vision !

I received several calls from the so called Treasury Department in Washington D C , saying I owed over $1600 and that the federal marshals had been trying to reach me and where was I on such and such a date when they came? this was in a very threatening tone of voice. I told them I knew it was a scam and they hung up, but it still bothered me. I sent this information to the IRS. I also wrote my congressman and asked why they don't do more to strengthen the laws against these crooks but only got a generic e mail from them. I know how I will vote this year.

Now that I am financially able, I give to several charities. The only problem with this is the number of calls I receive from OTHER charities has tripled! I don't know if any of them are legit, but they are a nuisance. I realize I will continue to receive charity calls from charities that I do not support, but unfortunately my charitable nature will be my undoing since these organizations will continue to call me as they can not be placed on the Do Not Call list. I wish there was a way to keep this particular problem at bay!

this is in veering in some peoples excuse as vomiting .homeless is becoming a racket with in it core, no one has come up with a way to stop the misuse of human kindness yet./why. You can not state problem when there isn't a safe way to redeem charity back from receipting .people are receiving aid cash housing and still don't have human thanks in no part of their self the need to aka for funding back is the only way to cure a spot that went bad this state programs have become the focus of churches.schools.county problems have stop people from being grateful that someone tried to stop the madness that people put their oneself in even those who think the system is here to wipe their nose every time they screw their life/others right to a life such as children

I've been hounded by phone calls from 1-315-6560, the Id says Marietta NY. on the phone ID. I answer occasionally to see who it actually is and they say they are a Technician named, Daniel, and sometimes John, they said they fixed my computer, but it still talks to them, Great Feat for a Computer that is stored under a desk, not plugged into electrical or the Router. What the heck is going on?? Thanks RLH

If you want telemarketers to stop calling you, you need to get rid of your old land line and start using your smeartphone s your main telephone. This will enable you to download call blocking apps, which, when you are called, you can add the number to the block list and they cannot call from that number again. Alternatively, you can select to frecevie calls only from your contact list. Anyone not on the contact list can leave a message and you can decide if it's someone you want to add to your address book or ditch. stay samrt. Stay up. Get a Smartphone. I don;t sell them by the way, I'm just telling you how I got rid of telemarketers and calls I don't want. Good luck.

My Mother and I receive calls from someone soliciting charitable funds almost daily! Our situation is already dire in itself so donating to anyone would be incredibly difficult. My Mother has been on disability since 2002 and I have been out of work waiting on my disability since May of 2015. Our monthly income is literally $897.00 and $315.00 at this time. When I try to explain this to each of these callers they continue to pressure me into donating and attempt to make me feel bad for not helping whoever the charity is supposed to be helping. This sickens me!! It's preying on the people who are at the worst point in there life financially! These people should be ashamed and have to be stopped!!

You don't owe anyone an explanation for not donating. Don't ever give personal information like income. Say no thank you and hang up.

I get daily phone calls from different area codes which I believe are spoofed numbers. No one appears to be on the line when I answer. What is going on with this?

I receive many calls everyday and sometimes from the same number. I usually don't answer and if it's important, they can leave a message on my voicemail. I also have been getting emails from people claiming they have money for me! But I never answer, I just delete it. I even got an email claiming it was from Mike Pompeo , Secretary of State! Really? Is there a way to stop scam phone calls and scam emails?

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