DEAR ABBY: It is important to remember that the funds which are raised through legitimate telemarketing are the lifeblood for many major nonprofit organizations. As president of the American Telephone Fundraisers Association, I applaud the FTC rule that helps people fight back against criminals who use telephones to cheat people.
I'd like to offer your readers a few tips to distinguish legitimate telemarketers from scam artists. The following are tips for making telephone donations.
1. Give because you believe in the cause, the charity or organization. Good telemarketers never pressure or threaten those they phone for donations.
2. Be wary of the "too-good-to-be-true" pitches. Legitimate telemarketers do not offer valuable rewards or gifts.
3. If concerned, ask for identification. Legitimate marketing companies welcome verification calls from potential donors.
4. When in doubt, ask for information in writing. Professional telemarketers are sympathetic to questions and won't hesitate to provide written information about the charity they represent.
5. Ask questions. Don't be shy about inquiring how the donation will be used. Professional telemarketers have thorough knowledge of the charity they represent and will provide that information on demand.
6. Ask if the telemarketing firm is a member of any telemarketing trade association. Firms belonging to the American Telephone Fundraisers Association follow the industry's most stringent code of ethics, and their telemarketers will be aware of their company's membership. -- RALPH REESE, PITTSBURGH
DEAR MR. REESE: I am sure my readers will appreciate knowing they need not be intimidated by telemarketers. Thank you for a valuable letter -- one that's well worth posting near the telephone.