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DONATE WISELY: Iowa Telemarketing Company Banned

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A decision by a Polk County Judge to ban an Osceola-based telemarketing company has Attorney General Tom Miller reminding Iowans to donate wisely.

On Monday, the Telequal company was barred from professionally fundraising in Iowa after an investigation found they were using a “highly deceptive pitch” to collect money.

After a 73-year-old widow with Alzheimer’s fell victim to Telequal’s scam, her family ended up changing her phone number and giving Iowa’s Consumer Protection Division the right to use the number and pose as the woman.

According to Miller when the Telequal representative called the number they “outright lied,” to try and get the agent posing as the elderly woman to donate money. “She said she was calling from the charity, claimed that the charity focused primarily on sick Iowa kids, and also claimed that a lot of each donation went to the kids,” Miller said.  “In truth, the call was coming from Telequal.  They were asking for money for an out of state charity that has no special Iowa focus, and 85 percent of every dollar donated went to the telemarketer, not to sick kids.”

Miller planned to file a fraud lawsuit against the company but they stopped operating and the defendants denied wrongdoing. According to the court order received Monday, Telequal and its owners, Travis Held and Amanda Held, and Telequal employees Jeffrey Jones and Jennifer Jones cannot move their operation out of state and call into Iowa, or use any donor information collected while in business here.

This is the third time in the past three years that Miller’s office has shut down an Iowa telemarketing operation for allegedly deceptive practices.  Miller is reminding Iowan’s to donate to charities wisely, ask specific questions and request written information.

If you think you may have been a victim of a fundraising scheme contact the Consumer Protection Division at 888-777-4590.