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Picking out the good calls from the bad

Your phone rings and someone is on the line, asking you to buy a ticket or send money for a fundraiser.

How do you know if they are telling the truth?

Sometimes, they are. However, the abundance of scammers who use the telephone to find victim makes it difficult for organizations that traditionally have raised money by calling citizens on the phone.

This month, for example, two legitimate organizations are calling Parkland residents in separate fundraisers.

Ozark Productions is holding its second performance to benefit area senior citizen centers. Last year, the Daily Journal had several calls from readers who thought they were being scammed by the company’s callers. In fact, the calls were authentic.

Last week, the company notified the Daily Journal that it would begin the fundraising calls today. The callers will explain that the Branson company will hold a show at 2 p.m. and again at 7 p.m. April 18 at Plummer Family Theatre. Matt and Robyn will perform. Tickets may be purchased ahead of time on the phone or at the door.

The performances will benefit the Bismarck, Bonne Terre, Farmington and Park Hills senior centers.

If you receive such a phone call and are concerned about its authenticity, contact Ozark Productions at 1-800-2809757 for additional information.

A Valles Mines woman received a suspicious call last week from the State Highway Patrol. The woman thought the caller said he was collecting money to put up signs on highways in order to warn motorists to pull over if an emergency vehicle approaches with its flashing lights.

She called the Daily Journal for more information, as she thought the request was odd.

A Highway Patrol spokesman confirmed that the call was authentic, but the woman apparently misunderstood the spiel.

The Missouri State Troopers Association out of Bolivar is calling for donations that will be used to sponsor legislation and other Association activities, including the Move Over, Slow Down for emergency vehicles campaign, Association Director Ken Sears said.

“The callers are not saying they are raising money for street signs; the Department of Transportation buys highway signs,” Sears said. “They’re saying that it will benefit some of our legislative campaigns, such as our “We have a Move Over, Slow Down campaign.”

The money also goes toward scholarship and aid, he added.

Although some of the money goes to help families of Association members, legitimate callers never say that, Sears explained.

“There are scams out there, people who pick up on our program and use it in their presentation,” he said. “Be leery if they say they are raising money for families.

If you are in doubt about the call you receive, call 800-621-5094 to check it out.

There are several things you can do to check out the authenticity of a suspicious call. Ask for the name of the caller and the organization he or she represents. Ask for a phone number so you can call back. Do not commit yourself to any type of money transaction when you receive an unverified phone call. If they are legitimate, they will be willing to give you contact information so you can donate the money or buy the ticket.

Check for the organization on the Internet by doing a search. Use that contact information to verify the call. Do not use the contact information the caller gave unless they match. You can also contact the Better Business Bureau (BBB) at   or call 314-645-3300. The BBB site includes a search to check out charities.

If your organization typically raises money through phone calls, remember that Parkland residents are on the lookout for scammers. Consider letting the public know ahead of time or remind your callers to be forthcoming about contact information.

The Daily Journal has made a commitment to keep readers abreast of scams that hit our area. If someone tries to make you the victim of a scam, call us at 573-431-2010 and tell us what happened. We will include your story in our scam alert series to prepare others who may find themselves in the same situation. The Daily Journal will run Scam Alert stories in the paper every Monday.

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