Small town librarian doesn’t fall for scam

By Robb Hicken/ chief storyteller

With about 10,000 items in the small metal library on Bruneau’s Ruth Street, it’s an easy job to follow-up on overdue books, in spite of the fact more than half the material circulates at least once a year.

“I probably know about 75 percent of the people who come through here,” says Clara Morris, librarian/director.

Morris says plenty of people use the library, located 60 miles south of Boise. Most stop by for directions or the computers. As librarian for nine years, it takes but a few minutes to check the stacks.

“We’ve had a lot of foreigners last year, and quite a few people who stop in to use the computers,” she says.

The library’s principal focus is Owyhee County and Idaho history due to the prominent families that settled the region. Many are writing or have written family histories, which she helps collect for the library.

That familiarity and notoriety possibly saved her friend, Dolly, a Bruneau resident, $300, after being called by a phone solicitor.

“Dolly and I walk together every morning,” Morris says. “So, when this lady called and asked her put her business name on ‘green-bags’ with some of the money going to the library, she knew it must be a hoax.”

The library board did not authorize any fundraising, and the salesperson was targeting the smaller communities.

BBB recommends that when responding to fundraising appeals you exercise the good judgment. Con artists pose as salesmen from out-of-town advertising firms as they target many community businesses. The salesman wants your company to buy ads in local calendars, yearbooks, directories or souvenir programs.

BBB suggests you understand the specialty advertising conditions and ask questions before buying. Find out:

  • What is the salesperson’s affiliation with the organization?
  • Does the salesperson have any information about the organization and the programs the ad space will support?
  • Can you make the check out directly to the name of the organization? If not, that is a red flag. Call the BBB for a report on the fundraising company or charity, before you write the check.
  • How many copies of the publication will be printed?
  • How often will it be published? Is there a charge for the publication?
  • Where and when will the publication be distributed?
  • Is the full name of the charity or nonprofit organization indicated in the advertisement? Is an address or telephone number provided for those interested in more information about the charity or the promotional partnership?
  • What are your plans for donating to charities this year? How does this opportunity fit into your plans? Are there other charities that you would prefer to support?

If a salesperson refuses to answer any of your questions, does not have supporting materials about the charitable organization, or urges you to act immediately, you may be dealing with a scam.

Morris says they had a good laugh. “I told Dolly, if she had that much extra money, she should just donate it to the library.”



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