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 Hurricane Michael.
“Seeing the damage caused by Hurricane Michael pulls at the heartstrings of so many,” Morrisey said in a statement. “West Virginians are generous people. I know so many will quickly look for ways they can help. I encourage such generosity, but also urge everyone to be cautious and ensure any gift truly helps those in need.”
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 West Virginia Secretary of State’s Office, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services as well as the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office.
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.
- 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 start 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.