CHARLESTON — West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey is reminding consumers to use caution as they open their wallets to help those devastated by Hurricane Harvey.
“Our hearts and prayers are with Texas,” Morrisey said in a press release. “As many West Virginians return the generosity Texans shared during our devastating 2016 flood, I urge everyone to give wisely and make sure someone with ill intent does not take advantage of your compassion.”
Those concerned about the legitimacy of a specific charity or organization should confirm it is registered to solicit donations. That information can be accessed through the Secretary of State’s Office in West Virginia and/or Texas.
Consumers also can research charities online via 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.
* If the organization is unfamiliar, gather as much information as possible and do research.
* Online contribution websites should start with https://. The ‘s” verifies a secure connection, making it less likely for personal information to be stolen.
* 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.
* 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.
Any West Virginian solicited to donate to a charity they think may be fraudulent can contact the 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.