Attorney General Scott Pruitt on Wednesday issued a warning to Oklahomans regarding solicitations and advertisements by national animal welfare organizations. Attorney General Pruitt is concerned such groups are giving Oklahomans the impression their donations are assisting Oklahoma animal shelters, when in fact the donations of Oklahomans may go toward unrelated efforts like lobbying in other states or at the federal level.
Attorney General Pruitt said he is looking into concerns over fundraising advertisements in the wake of the May 2013 tornadoes. Those advertisements gave Oklahomans the impression their donations would go to help animals displaced by the storm as well as support local shelters impacted by the storm. The concern is the donations of Oklahomans made to national animal welfare organizations in the wake of the tornadoes may have gone instead to lobbying activities. The Attorney General’s Office has consulted with central Oklahoma animal shelters most impacted by the 2013 tornadoes who indicated their organizations have not received assistance from the national groups.
“Oklahomans are caring people and gave generously to assist our friends and neighbors devastated by the deadly May 2013 tornadoes,” Attorney General Pruitt said. “In the wake of the storm, there are concerns some national animal welfare organizations may have misled Oklahomans by giving the impression their donations would help displaced animals and animal shelters in Oklahoma. Our review has found the Oklahoma shelters have not received assistance from national groups. Our concern is that Oklahomans’ donations may instead have gone toward lobbying activities in other states or at the national level. We all want the best for displaced animals and appreciate the work animal welfare organizations do to provide care for dogs, cats and other animals. But it’s important to ensure Oklahomans are not being deceived, and that the donations they made to help Oklahoma-based animal shelters are doing just that.”
The Attorney General’s Office is reviewing information from national animal welfare organizations to help resolve and clarify these concerns.
To ensure their donations go to help local animal welfare organizations, the Attorney General encouraged Oklahomans to give directly to state-based causes and organizations.
“The best way to ensure your donation is assisting the charity or organization you intended is to give directly to that organization,” Attorney General Pruitt said. “If anyone suspects they have been the victim of false or misleading fundraising efforts by national animal welfare groups, they should contact the Attorney General's Office. As the state’s top consumer advocate, I will continue to review these concerns to ensure no one is taking advantage of the generosity of Oklahomans.”
The Attorney General’s Public Protection Unit provides the following tips to avoid charity fraud:
• Do not give credit card numbers over the telephone or via e-mail;
• Write checks payable only to the charity;
• Never be pressured into giving;
• Find out if a charity is registered in Oklahoma by contacting the Secretary of State at (405) 521-4211 or visit www.sos.ok.gov;
• Be leery of “free gifts” or “prizes” in return for donations;
• Ask for information in writing;
• Be leery of charities with names similar to well-known organizations;
• Beware of appeals that are long on emotion, but short on facts;
• Never be afraid to ask questions or request information.
To report suspected fraud, contact the AG’s Public Protection Unit at(405) 521-2029 or (918) 581-2885 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.