Underprivileged Workers of America

by G.L.Gunderman
(Florence, AL)

I have been called each year, and have given most years to a charity called Underprivileged Workers of America. They send light bulbs or cleaning materials in return for a donation. They are supposed to be helping disabled veterans.

My question is do they? Is it legit?

They are operating out of Chattanooga, TN now. Thanks for any help.

Thank you for your question.

We found no listing on the IRS list of exempt organizations for Underprivileged Workers of America.

We did not find them listed at GuideStar, Charity Navigator, Charity Watch, or the Better Business Bureau charity reviews.

Even searches on Google and Yahoo turned up nothing under the name Underprivileged Workers of America.

We did find this information on the Kentucky Attorney General's web site under "Phony charity pitches," which lists some common scams:

"Telemarketers, claiming to represent the handicapped, call businesses to sell light bulbs, trash bags or other office supplies and cleaning products. Many of these sales are conducted by for-profit companies that have little or no connection with the handicapped."

You may also wish to read this article in Kiplinger's Personal Finance from May of 1990, titled Light Bulb Profits That Don't Go to Charity.

In August of 2000, the Federal Trade Commission settled charges against an Arizona-based telemarketing firm for misrepresenting themselves as handicapped or disabled:

"According to the FTC's complaint, the defendants used business names that imply a connection with the handicapped community, such as Handicapped Industries; Jobs for the Disadvantaged; and Reliable Handicapped Workers, and their telemarketers told consumers that their purchase of household goods such as light bulbs, garbage bags, and room fresheners -- at prices that were two to ten times higher than competitors' prices -- would benefit the firms' worders, who were falsely depicted as being handicapped or disabled."

We found a web site called buyforcharity.com that offers light bulb sales for fundraisers, but there is no way to know if they are related.

If you still have any printed material from this group (maybe an invoice for your pledge?), please take a look and see if you can find any other possible name for the organization, and let us know.

Thank you for your interest in helping our nation's veterans.

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