CHARLESTON — West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey's office is reminding consumers to use caution as they open their wallets to help those impacted by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.
“The two recent hurricanes have left many fellow Americans in real need,” Morrisey said. “During times like these, West Virginians’ compassion for those afflicted by disaster shines through. We urge people to donate generously, but also to take time and ensure that the money you contribute is actually going toward helping people.”
Morrisey said 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, along with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
Consumers also can research charities online via www.charitynavigator.org or www.guidestar.org.
The AG's office also provided 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 charity is unfamiliar, gather as much information as possible about the organization.
* Online contribution website should starts 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.