Attorney General Morrisey Reminds Consumers to Exercise Caution With Holiday Donations
CHARLESTON — West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey encouraged consumers to think before they open their holiday wallet for just any charity.
“This time of year is a popular time for charities to seek donations, but some people may take advantage of the goodwill of others,” Attorney General Morrisey said. “Before giving, make sure money is going to the desired charity.”
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 as www.charitynavigator.org or www.guidestar.org.
Those interested in knowing if a donation is tax-deductible can access the U.S. Internal Revenue Service’s Tax Exempt Organization Search at https://apps.irs.gov/app/eos/.
Those making an online contribution should make sure the website starts with https:// when visiting the donation portal. This verifies a secure connection, making it less likely for personal information to be stolen.
Additional tips to keep in mind during the season of 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 do research.
- Beware some scams may use sympathetic-sounding names that are similar to the names of legitimate charities.
- Be suspicious if organizations 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 the charity or organization’s website instead of clicking on a link to the desired group.
- 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 feels as though they have been scammed while giving to a charity should call 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.