CHARLESTON, WV (WOAY) — West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, along with a host of domestic and international partners, kicked off International Charity Fraud Awareness Week.
The international effort offers tips for wise giving with the hope of helping charities and consumers avoid charity fraud. This year’s initiative, which runs Monday, Oct. 19, to Friday, Oct. 23, also features cybersecurity and data security tips for nonprofits.
“Many consumers choose to donate to charitable causes,” Attorney General Morrisey said. “I commend and encourage this generosity. However, we also must exercise caution. Failing to protect information can lead to identity theft and financial fraud, so it’s important to consider the tips offered by this week’s joint awareness initiative.”
Tips include being aware of the potential for fraud, taking time to check the legitimacy of a charitable organization and ways nonprofits can safeguard their cybersecurity and data.
Those concerned about the legitimacy of a specific charity or organization should confirm it is registered to solicit donations in West Virginia. That information can be accessed through the West Virginia Secretary of State’s office.
Additional tips to keep in mind include:
- Never feel pressured to donate immediately.
- Be suspicious of charities that ask for donations in cash, gift cards or via wire transfer.
- Ask how much of an individual donation directly supports the desired cause.
- 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 the charity’s website instead of clicking on a link to the desired group. Also, confirm the website starts with https:// as the “s” verifies a secure connection.
- 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.
Charity Fraud Awareness Week involves a broad coalition of charities, regulators, law enforcers, representative and umbrella bodies, as well as other not-for-profit stakeholders whose goal is to raise awareness and share good practices in tackling fraud and cybercrime.
West Virginia’s Attorney General is participating with the Federal Trade Commission and other U.S. and international partners.
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.