COLUMBUS — Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine today announced a settlement with a Virginia-based professional solicitor that conducted phone and mail solicitations in Ohio on behalf of charities.
Under an assurance of discontinuance, Public Interest Communications Inc., of Falls Church, Virginia, agreed to pay $50,000 to the Ohio Attorney General’s Office and to comply with Ohio’s Charitable Organizations Act.
“By enforcing the state’s charitable laws, we’re protecting Ohio donors,” DeWine said. “Charitable contributions are critical to our communities, and donors deserve to know that those who solicit for charities are following the rules.”
The assurance resolves a 2014 lawsuit filed by the Attorney General in the Franklin County Common Pleas Court. An investigation by the Attorney General’s Charitable Law Section found that the company had failed to file timely solicitation notices or timely financial reports for multiple Ohio campaigns and had violated previous agreements with the Attorney General.
Under the assurance, Public Interest Communications does not admit any wrongdoing but agrees to abide by the state’s charitable solicitation laws, including:
• Filing timely completed registration forms by March 31 of every year it solicits in Ohio.
• Filing timely solicitation notices.
• Filing timely solicitation campaign financial reports.
Professional solicitors are paid to solicit on behalf of charitable organizations. Individuals who receive calls asking for charitable donations should take steps to protect themselves, such as:
• Ask questions about who is calling. Professional solicitors must provide the solicitor’s name, status as a professional solicitor, basic information about the charity, and if requested, the percentage of gross revenue that will be retained by the charity.
• Ask for written information before sharing bank or credit card information over the phone.
• Look for warning signs, including overly aggressive tactics or callers who are unable or unwilling to answer questions.
Consumers can find additional information about wise giving strategies and lists of registered professional solicitors in Ohio by contacting the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at www.OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov or by calling 800-282-0515.
A copy of the settlement is available on the Ohio Attorney General’s website: www.ohioattorneygeneral.gov.