Charleston, W.Va. – Secretary of State Natalie E. Tennant is urging West Virginians who are solicited to make donations to a charity during the water emergency to make sure the organization is registered to do so.
“Any time there is an emergency, West Virginians come together,” Secretary Tennant said. “Emergency workers and National Guard members are out there protecting us and making sure people have what they need, and we all owe them our thanks. And each of us do what we can to help, and a lot of times that means making a donation to a charity. But there are people out there who take advantage of our generosity.”
The West Virginia Secretary of State’s Office maintains a database of thousands of charities that are registered to solicit donations and lists how they disbursed their funds.
“Our database gives people the information they need to arm themselves against scams,” Secretary Tennant said.
The database can be accessed by visiting the Secretary of State’s Office website at www.wvsos.com and clicking the “Wise Charitable Giving” link at the top of the page.
Secretary Tennant said citizens should “BEWARE,” and watch for these warning signs of a potentially fraudulent charity:
- Bills or invoices are sent to you even though you never pledged money to the organization.
- Evasive, vague, or unresponsive answers to specific questions about the charity and how the money is used.
- Words making up a charity’s name that closely resemble a more well-known charity.
- Allowing you no time to reconsider your pledge; they insist on collecting your money immediately.
- Refusal to answer questions about where your money will go or refusal to send more information about the charity.
- Emotional appeals and high pressure tactics to get you to make a quick donation, or they make you feel guilty if you do not wish to contribute.
Secretary Tennant also suggests writing down the exact name of the charity when you are contacted and to ask if the caller is being paid by a fundraising company.
If a citizen believes they have been contacted by a fraudulent charity, they are urged to contact the Secretary of State’s Office immediately at (304) 558-6000.
A State of Emergency is currently in place in nine counties in West Virginia. The counties affected are: Boone, Cabell, Clay, Jackson, Kanawha, Lincoln, Logan, Putnam, and Roane counties. Residents served by Lincoln PSD, Queen Shoals PSD, Reamer PSD, City of Culloden PSD, and City of Hurricane PSD are also affected.
“I urge all of our citizens who live in the affected areas to remain calm and follow the instructions coming from health officials and emergency crews,” Secretary Tennant said. “This is a very difficult time for this region, because for the time being we cannot depend on a steady and safe supply of a precious resource. I also urge everyone who lives in these areas to share their water with their neighbors if they have any to spare, and check on elderly family members and neighbors. West Virginians care about each other, and I am confident that our compassion will show once again as we all face a very trying time together.”