Charleston, WV (WOAY) – West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey encourages consumers to think before opening their wallets to charities this holiday season as part of Holiday Consumer Protection Week.
Anyone with questions about a charity or organization’s legitimacy can visit the Secretary of State’s website to see if the charity is registered to solicit donations in West Virginia.
Consumers may also research charities on websites such as CharityNavigator.org or GuideStar.org.
Anyone 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 online contributions should ensure the website starts with https:// when visiting the donation portal to verify a secure connection and make it less likely for hackers to steal personal information.
Additional tips to keep in mind during the season of giving are:
Never feel pressured to donate immediately
Be wary of charities asking for donations in cash or via wire transfers
If the organization is unfamiliar, gather as much information as possible and do research.
Scams may use sympathetic-sounding names similar to legitimate charity names.
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 the charity or organization’s website instead of clicking a link to the desired group.
Keep records. Contributions over $250 should result in a returned letter confirming the charitable status of the organization as well as the amount of the donation.
Anyone who believes they have been a victim of a scam should contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division at 800-368-8808 or visit the office online at www.ago.wv.gov.