Attorney General warns of storefront solicitors

By Patty Hastings, Columbian breaking news reporter

Published:

 

State officials are warning consumers about storefront solicitor scams, where people ask for donations near retail stores on behalf of charities.

The Attorney General's Office's Consumer Protection Division and the Office of Secretary of State's Charities Program believe the solicitors personally pocket most of the money instead of giving it to the intended charity.

"Unfortunately, not all solicitors are reputable," said Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson. "Check before giving to a charity so you can confirm your money is going to help a good cause, not line someone's wallet."

State officials offer these tips to consumers who encounter storefront solicitors:

• Don't give into pressure. Tell the solicitor you want to take time to make your decision.

• Ask for written material about the organization to take home and research to see if their donations help other charities as they claim.

• Ask the solicitor if he or she is registered with the Office of Secretary of State.

• Don't be fooled by a name. Some use names that sound similar to respected, well-established charities.

Most charities have to register with the Charities Program, though this doesn't guarantee the solicitor is complying with the law.

Since September 2011, the Attorney General's Office has investigated and filed a lawsuit against a solicitor for these kind of violations.