CHARLESTON — West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey is warning consumers to be careful giving to a third-party entity that claims to represent a popular charity. 

The Attorney General’s office recently learned of individuals soliciting donations in Morgantown on behalf of the American Cancer Society. 

While it’s not unheard of for individuals or smaller groups to support a larger entity, any such effort should cause the consumer to exercise caution.

“I’m always inspired by the giving spirit of my fellow West Virginians,” Morrisey said in a press release. “Our residents help others any way they can. Scammers also recognize that generosity, making it important that consumers be careful when opening their wallet to help another.”

Anyone with questions about the legitimacy of a charity or organization can review the Secretary of State’s website to see if the charity is registered to solicit donations in West Virginia. Consumers may also research the charity on websites such ascharitynavigator.org or guidestar.org.

Additional tips to keep in mind when giving are:

* Never feel pressured to donate immediately.

* Be wary of charities that ask for donations in cash or via wire transfer.

* If the organization is unfamiliar, gather as much information as possible and seek reviews from friends and family.

* Be suspicious if an organization will not give additional information about its mission, how donations are used or proof that a contribution is tax deductible.

* If a donation request is for a local chapter of an organization, verify it is authorized to solicit funds on behalf of the parent organization.

* Go directly to charity or organization’s website instead of clicking on a link to the desired group.

* Make sure the website for any online contribution starts with https://, as the “s” verifies a secure connection for personal information.

* Keep records. Contributions exceeding $250 should result in a returned letter confirming the charitable status of the organization as well as the amount of the donation.

Anyone who is solicited to donate to a charity they think may be fraudulent is asked to 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.

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