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'Reminder' notes for donations that were never promised? MN sues fundraisers

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A lawsuit filed by Minnesota's Attorney General claims a pair of Michigan-based fundraising companies are using deception to get Minnesotans to donate to a foundation for veterans.

Attorney General Lori Swanson's suit against Associated Community Services and one of its affiliates says the company contacted prospective donors and then sent them false reminders that they'd pledged money when in reality they had not, WCCO reports.

According to the station, Swanson says Associated Community Services (ACS) also broke Minnesota law by saying they were calling from the Foundation for American Veterans and not revealing they are actually a professional fundraising company.

In fact, the lawsuit says the fundraisers keep 85 percent of the money donated, FOX 9 reports, with only 10 percent being used to help veterans.

The Associated Press says ACS did not respond to its requests for comment.

Past complaints

Three years ago, Crain's Detroit Business reported Michigan's Attorney General had ordered ACS to stop using deceptive telemarketing tactics after an investigation found 230 violations by the company.

The Better Business Bureau has issued an alert about the Foundation for American Veterans. The BBB says it emailed the foundation in January about "a pattern and high volume of complaints," especially from consumers who said they were getting harassing phone calls.

Checking out charities

The Attorney General's office offers tips for Minnesotans planning to donate to a charity. They include finding out if the charity uses a professional fundraiser and what percentage of the donation that fundraiser gets.

The Minnesota Charities Review Council has put together guidelines for nonprofit groups and evaluates and rates charities on its website.

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