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Legal Help For Consumers Against Businesses and Non-Profits


Mark A. Pacella
Chief Deputy Attorney General
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania

For State-By-State Listing Of All Major Offices, Including Attorney General's Office, go to
http://www.lesko.com/business.php?cat_id=17

The National Association of Attorneys Generals also maintains a map for contacting State Attorney http://www.naag.org/

  • Find Out About Non-Profits Before Giving.
  • Get Legal Help When A Business/Non-Profit Tries To Cheat You.
  • Businesses Who Cheat Seniors Pay Triple Fines.
  • No Complaint Is Too Small.

  Interview Highlights

  • One of the functions of the Attorney General's Office is to oversee property and money that gets committed to charities.
  • They oversee when people donate to charities.
  • They also oversee non-profit organizations who solicit money.
  • They register non-profit organizations who are soliciting funds.
  • 39 states regulate these organizations.
  • Organizations that solicit have to register with their office
  • The registration information is open to the public for people to investigate an organization before they give money.The registration information is open to the public for people to investigate an organization before they give money.
  • You can contact the office of Attorney General before you give.
  • Some charities give 80-90% of their money to the people they serve and some give only 10%. You can find out this kind of information before you give.
  • Their office can help you get this information.
  • If you feel that a charity mislead you, you can contact their office and they will investigate.
  • You contact them by email, phone, or even walk in.
  • It is important to complain no matter how small you think the matter is because you may be one of many and it makes it helpful for them to see a pattern of bad behavior to warrant an investigation.
  • Your small complaint is a way to protect other people in the future.
  • There is a lot of good consumer tips on their web site.
  • You don't have to give just because they ask.
  • High pressure is a warning that something is not right.
  • YOU SHOULD ASK HOW MUCH MONEY IS GOING TO THE CAUSE AND THEN VERIFY IT BEFORE YOU GIVE ANY MONEY.
  • Attorney General Offices have different functions in different states.
  • They have a Bureau of Consumer Protection that handles complaints against businesses for consumer transactions, they attempt to mediate the complaint.
  • They get tens of thousands of complaints a year.
  • If you live in Pennsylvania and have a complaint against a company in Texas, you can call the Pennsylvania office and they will get it to the right person.
  • They are better than the Better Business Bureau (BBB) because the BBB does not have the power to enforce laws the way the Attorney General's Office can.
  • Dealing with the Attorney General's Office, a business can be subject to fines and other penalties.
  • When dealing with the Better Business Bureau, it is all voluntary with no law enforcement penalties.
  • Businesses that are found to be operating unfair business practices can be fined $1,000 per instance and $3,000 per instance if it is against a person 60 years or older. It can be big money if they have been doing the same thing to 800 customers.
  • The Better Business Bureau will tell you how many complaints are filed against a company; the Attorney General office cannot tell you about complaints only about any legal action against a company.
  • DON'T MAKE AN IMPULSE DECISION, DO SOME RESEARCH FIRST.
  • IF YOU THINK YOU'VE BEEN LIED TO GIVE THEM A CALL.
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