Franklin County Sheriff Warns of New Phone Solicitation Scam

Franklin County Sheriff Steve Thomas is warning citizens of scammers calling people pretending to be collecting donations for the Georgia Sheriff’s Association and the Georgia Sheriff’s Youth Homes, Inc.

Sheriff Thomas tells WLHR News he has received a number of complaints concerning organizations that solicit by phone claiming to be affiliated with sheriffs, deputies or other law enforcement agencies.

Thomas said the Georgia Sheriffs’ Association, Inc. (GSA) and Georgia Sheriffs’ Youth Homes, Inc. (GSYH) never raises funds through the use of telephone solicitations.

He said if anyone phones you claiming they are affiliated with one of those organizations, it is a fraud.

Both the Georgia Sheriff’s Assn and Georgia Sheriff’s Youth Home only use the United States mail to raise money for the organizations.

Even though it is legal for businesses and associations to solicit by telephone, the sheriffs of Georgia do not endorse fundraising projects or advertising sales conducted by telephone and do not find it an acceptable practice for any organization representing a law enforcement group or association.

Thomas said fraudulent telephone and advertising schemes rip off hundreds of millions of dollars nationwide from unsuspecting businesses and individuals.

He said if you receive solicitations by telephone, please take the following precautions:

First, ask questions. Honest businesses don’t mind questions.

Request a list of the Board of Directors of the organization that the solicitor is representing. !

Do not buy or pledge anything by phone. Ask for the offer or donation request to be mailed to you in writing before you send money.

But be very cautious of anyone using “runners” to pick up contributions to avoid using the United States mail.

Additionally, any reputable organization should be happy to furnish you with a copy of their annual report and a copy of the IRS letter stating that the organization is a 501(c)3 tax exempt organization.

Also, if the caller says they are representing a certain law enforcement group or organization, have them furnish you with the law enforcement agency that is sponsoring the fundraising project and request an address and phone number so you can verify the endorsement.

Thomas said do not be fooled by promotional materials that look “professional” or use names similar to well-known companies or government agencies.

Additionally, the Sheriff said all charitable organizations must register with the Secretary of State’s office before they can raise funds in Georgia.

To verify if an organization is registered, you can contact the Charitable Organizations Division of the Secretary of State at (404)656-4910.

Also, if you need to file a complaint about possible fraud, individuals should contact the Governor’s Office of Consumer Affairs at 1-800-869-1123.