Contact 6: Warning regarding police, fire fundraising calls

MILWAUKEE -- Police and firefighters are like superheroes to many kids. We often say they're the city's finest. So when you get a call asking you to donate to a police and fire association, you generally think it's legit. However, Contact 6's Katrina Cravy says you may want to think twice!

If your local police or fire association has called you looking for a donation, there is a good chance the call came from a professional fundrasier, but Consumer Protection says sometimes, the caller is a complete con-artist! "You really have to be careful, because there are so many fraudulent criminal wings that pretend to be firefighters and police," Sandy Chalmbers with Consumer Protection said.

Even the legitimate professional fundraisers may make more than you're willing to give. Contact 6 first told you about one of those: Encore Concert Promotions, or Encore Music Productions, in 2010, when former employees came forward because they said they wanted you to know the truth. "It's the biggest hustle in the State of Wisconsin that there is, it really is," one former employee said.

These former employees came forward because they don't think people realize the common contract, and the state confirms it. For every dollar you donate, 80 cents goes to the fundraiser, and 20 cents to the association. Contact 6 advises people to remember that you always have the right to ask where your money goes, and call the charity directly. Good questions to ask include: "Who's raising money for you? What percentage of my donation will go to the professional fundrasier, and what percentage will go to you? And what will my donation be used for?" Chalmbers said.

The charities or law enforcement associations Contact 6 has spoken with don't want to talk on camera. They say they're not happy by this, but at least they're able to get some money for their programs.

Your best bet: if you want to support police and fire associations, make the donations directly. Or at the very least, when you get a donation call, act like a detective and start asking questions.

Encore's professional license with the state was not current earlier this week, but it is now, after Contact 6 got involved. Encore's owner, John Tobin says the state didn't process the paperwork correctly.

To check a company's license with the state, click here.

To check a charity, click here.