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Law Enforcement Charities
The DPS will never call Texans asking for Donations!

December 2001

During the holidays, you may receive fundraising calls from law enforcement associations. Over the years, the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) has received many questions and complaints about fundraising by law enforcement associations. This article answers some of your questions about these solicitations, and provides some general pointers for when you receive fundraising calls.

Does the DPS solicit donations?

No. The DPS is funded by your tax dollars, and does not solicit contributions from private citizens. Law enforcement associations cannot imply that they are part of the DPS, and cannot imply that the money they raise will go to the DPS. Some organizations solicit funds using names similar to those of the Texas Department of Public Safety, like “Texas Rangers,” “Texas Highway Patrol,” or “Department of Public Safety.” While some officers may be members of these associations on their own time, these groups are not affiliated with the DPS.

The person who called me said he was a peace officer …

Under the law, telemarketers for public safety organizations cannot legally imply that they are peace officers, unless they are. They cannot use names, symbols, or statements that are similar to those used by the Texas Department of Public Safety, the Texas Rangers, or other police agencies in a manner that is intended to confuse or mislead a person being solicited. Breaking this solicitation law is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $4,000 and up to one year in jail. Civil penalties include a fine of up to $2,500 for an individual violation and up to $10,000 for multiple offenses.

What if I am contacted by a questionable group?
If you are contacted by a group you believe is misrepresenting itself as part of the Texas Department of Public Safety, contact the Consumer Protection Division of the Texas Attorney General’s office at (800)621-0508.

Keep the following in mind before giving money to any charitable organization:

  • Always request written information on the charity asking you for money. By law, telemarketers must provide the charity’s name, street address, and phone number. They must also tell you the names and phone numbers of the callers and their supervisors.
  • Ask how your donation will be distributed. How much will cover administrative costs? How much will actually go to the program you wish to support?
  • If the money is solicited by a professional fundraiser, ask how much of your donation the fundraiser will keep.
  • Call the charity to ask whether the organization is aware of the solicitation and has authorized the use of its name.
  • Refuse to respond to high-pressure appeals. Any legitimate charity will be happy to wait to receive your donation if you decide to give.
  • Check with the Texas Attorney General’s Office and your local Better Business Bureau to see whether any complaints about the charitable organization have been filed.
  • Check with the Texas Secretary of State’s Office to see whether the charity is registered and whether the solicitor is bonded.



Adapted from “Solicitation by Law Enforcement Agencies,” prepared as a public service by the Texas Department of Public Safety. For more information, visit www.txdps.state.tx.us or call (512)424-2080. www.txdps.state.tx.us or call (800)621-0508.
 

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