InfoCision, Inc., an Akron, Ohio-based company, agreed last month to pay a $250,000 civil penalty and implement recordkeeping and monitoring practices to settle Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) charges brought by the Department of Justice on the FTC’s behalf. The FTC alleged that since at least 2013 InfoCision conducted hundreds of telemarketing campaigns on behalf of charitable organizations that violated the FTC’s Telemarketing Sales Rule (“TSR”).  The TSR requires telemarketers calling on behalf of a charity to promptly inform the call recipients of the solicited charity and that the purpose of the call is to seek a donation.

According to the FTC, InfoCision’s telemarketers told some recipients at the start of the call that they were not calling to ask for a donation, but then asked the recipients to deliver materials requesting donations to family members, friends, or neighbors. The FTC further alleged that InfoCision’s telemarketers then did ask some recipients to donate money.  The proposed order settling the FTC’s charges bars InfoCision from making any false or misleading statements in connection with its telemarketing activities designed to induce anyone to pay for goods or services or make a charitable contribution.

Takeaway: Advertisers who have charitable partners as part of corporate giving or commercial co-ventures should ensure that their partners who use telemarketing campaigns to solicit charitable donations inform recipients promptly that the purpose of the call is to seek donations for the charity.