In the last couple of weeks our household began to get calls, often several times a day, from 412-622-7387, showing as "PUB INTEREST CM" in the Caller ID. They never left a message, and they obviously ignored our voice mail message telling solicitors not to call our number anymore (probably because these outfits use robocallers, but this does not absolve them from their responsibility not to call those who request not to be called).
I did some research, and found out many people have reported harassment from this number. The outfit's name is Public Interest Communications, Inc., with offices in Falls Church, VA, Pittsburgh, PA and Salt Lake City, UT. Their specialty is doing telemarketing for nonprofits. Their President is Kenneth Whittaker
, 703-847-8300. Some folks on the Web suggest emailing him may get you off of their list.
You may be on the Federal Trade Commission's National Do Not Call Registry
. This offers limited protection, since Congress put a number of loopholes in the law. It does not cover political solicitations at all. "Charities are not covered by the requirements of the national registry. However, if a third-party telemarketer is calling on behalf of a charity, a consumer may ask not to receive any more calls from, or on behalf of, that specific charity. If a third-party telemarketer calls again on behalf of that charity, the telemarketer may be subject to a fine of up to $11,000." (From information on the Do Not Call site - of course, you would have to take the telemarketer's call to know what charity had asked them to harass you.)
Companies like Public Interest Communications are in business for profit. Their concern is not the cause, but using any means to maximize how much they get out of the people they call in order to maximize their revenue. So it is not surprising that they use tactics that most charities would never use in contacting their supporters directly.
I think we should care not just what an organization's stated purpose is, but how it conducts itself. Subjecting supporters to harassment from businesses like Public Interest Communications seems to me to be a clearly unethical practice. Accordingly, we should refuse to support such charities.
Public Interest Communications publishes a partial list of clients
on its Web site. I went through the list, noted the ones I support, and communicated to each of those groups that I would no longer support them, and why. I recommend others do the same. If charities understand that the public cares how they are treated, and pays attention to it, they may be more careful to be ethical in their fundraising.
Here is the partial list of clients of Public Interest Communications: