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Lately, there has been a rash of attempts to raise money for so-called charitable organizations that appear less than charitable.

In fact, the only people who are likely to benefit from money donated by the uninformed are those doing the fund raising.Both the Utah Division of Consumer Protection and several Salt Lake police organizations have issued warnings advising the public not to be taken in by official-sounding groups that have been soliciting money over the telephone.

These unscrupulous operators have adopted names that sound legitimate. No doubt they are costing their deserving counterparts money by fooling consumers into thinking they are supporting such groups as the American Cancer Society.

Some questionable organizations that have surfaced along the Wasatch Front recently include the Cancer Fund of America, the American Heart Disease, the National Animal Protection, the Walker Cancer Research Institute, and the Pacific West Cancer Fund.

Another group, which calls itself the Utah Alliance of Police Officers, has resorted to implied threats over the telephone to try to force contributions, according to an official of a legitimate police association, the Police Mutual Aid Association.

The implication was that if someone contacted didn't show their support of the police with a donation, the level of police protection they receive might suffer. Donors were also urged to engage in the illegal practice of post-dating checks.

Consumers need to make sure they know just who is getting their charitable contributions. They should also beware of groups that utilize strong-arm tactics or suggest illegal ways of making a donation.

And they also should take the advise of state officials, who advise checking to see if a charity has complied with state law and registered with the Utah Division of Consumer Protection.