CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WTAP) - WV Attorney General Patrick Morrisey reminds residents to watch out for scams and fake charities as they open their wallets to help Americans impacted by Hurricane Florence.
Those concerned about the legitimacy of a specific charity or organization should confirm it is registered in a U.S. state to solicit donations.
That information can be accessed through the Secretary of State’s Offices in West Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina.
Consumers can also research charities online at www.charitynavigator.org or www.guidestar.org.
Additional tips to keep in mind when giving to disaster relief organizations:
Never feel pressure to donate immediately.
Be suspicious of charities that ask for donations in cash or via wire transfer.
Consider paying by credit card, which is the safest option for security and tax purposes.
Ask how much of an individual donation directly supports hurricane relief.
If the charity is unfamiliar, gather as much information as possible about the organization.
Never rely on a group's sympathetic sounding name or its similarity to a well-known, reputable entity.
Be wary of unsolicited calls that thank you for donations that you do not recall making.
Verify any local chapter is authorized to solicit funds on behalf of its parent organization.
Go directly to a charity or organization’s website instead of clicking on a link to the desired group.
Any online contribution website should starts with https://. The "s" verifies a secure connection, making it less likely for personal information to be stolen.
Be wary of any charity refusing to detail its mission, use of donations or proof of tax deductibility.
Keep records, including a letter confirming the charitable status of the organization, for contributions in excess of $250.
Anyone solicited to donate to a charity they think may be fraudulent can contact the West Virginia Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division at 1-800-368-8808, the Eastern Panhandle Consumer Protection Office in Martinsburg at 304-267-0239 or visit the office online at www.wvago.gov.