ATA Warns of Phony Fundraisers

The American Teleservices Association is warning consumers to beware of fraudulent telephone fundraising schemes trying to capitalize on last week's terrorist attacks.

The ATA condemned the practice of using events in New York and Washington to defraud the public. The association said scam artists have contacted consumers by telephone to attract donations for nonexistent funds.

“It's sickening and disheartening to hear news like this,” said Jason Clawson, executive director of the ATA. “At a time when all of America is pulling together, it seems a few people have decided to take advantage for personal profit.”

The ATA urged consumers to ask fundraisers who call them for the caller's name, address and phone number and to beware of high-pressure tactics. The association also advised consumers to ask to be mailed information if they are suspicious of a solicitor.

The Direct Marketing Association has issued a similar warning and advised consumers to donate solely to legitimate, well-known organizations such as the United Way, Salvation Army and Red Cross.

New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani warned the city's consumers soon after the attacks about a phony organization claiming to be raising funds for the disaster effort. Giuliani said authorities were trying to track the perpetrators but offered no further information.

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