CHARLESTON, W.Va. - West Virginia Secretary of State Mac Warner reminds West Virginians that it is easy to verify if a charity is legally registered before donating to that charity or non-profit.
Unfortunately, scam charities will often use natural disasters like Hurricane Florence to take advantage of peoples’ willingness and eagerness to help those affected.
“West Virginians never hesitate to help those in need,” Secretary Warner said. “That’s one of the many things that make the Mountain State so special. However, it’s very important that those donating make sure they don’t get taken advantage of.”
West Virginians can search for a particular charity using the Charitable Organization Search application on our website. All charities are required to register through the Secretary of State’s office before they solicit donations from West Virginia residents.
The American Red Cross is not listed on the charity database because they are exempt due to being federally regulated.
In addition to searching for a charity, West Virginians should do the following:
Do independent research to make sure it’s a charity you really want to contribute to.
Be cautious of organizations mimicking legitimate charities. Always go to the charity’s established website instead of clicking on links.
Never feel pressured to donate right away. Such coercive tactics should be an immediate red flag.
Never give away personal or financial information over the phone.
Be wary of charities that refuse to give information like proof of tax deductibility or use of donations.
Make sure your money is going to a legitimate organization before giving.
Keep records of contributions made.
Secretary Warner encourages citizens to report all potential scam charities. Complaints made regarding the operation of charities or non-profits not registered with the Secretary of State’s Office are given immediate attention by the Investigations Division.
The Secretary’s office offers a General Complaint Form that can be used to help Secretary Warner and his staff shut these operations down.
A letter from North Carolina Secretary of State Elaine Marshall to the National Association of Secretaries of State describing the current state of North Carolina following Hurricane Florence.
“As a fellow secretary of state, my heart goes out to Secretary Marshall and all those in North Carolina and beyond affected by this horrific natural disaster. It is times like this when we must come together collectively to help our fellow man rebuild. I remember the West Virginia flood of 2016 all too well and the outpouring of support from those within and beyond our state. It is now time for us to return the favor,” said Secretary Warner.
West Virginians with questions or concerns about charities can call the Secretary of State’s office at 304-558-6000 or visit our website www.sos.wv.gov.
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