Charleston, W.Va. – West Virginia Secretary of State Natalie E. Tennant is reminding generous people that they have many tools available to make sure they don’t get scammed during the holiday season.
“A lot of people feel generous during the holiday season, and want to donate to charities to make sure the holidays are happy,” Tennant said. “But remember that there might be dishonest people out there looking to take advantage of that generosity and who might try to scam you.”
Tennant said her office maintains a database of every charitable organization licensed to solicit donations from West Virginians. The database, available on the Secretary of State’s website, displays important information in an easy to understand format. Where a charity is located, the amount of money a charity took in, and how they spent that money is available.
However, not every worthy charity is listed. Organizations such as hospitals, smaller charities that take in less than $25,000, and charities like the Salvation Army that are monitored on a national level are not listed.
Tennant urges people to remember some simple tips to make sure a scammer doesn’t take advantage of their holiday spirit and charitable giving.
“If a person calls asking for a donation, ask the caller if their organization is registered with the Secretary of State’s Office. If they give you the runaround, that’s a good sign that you should just hang up the phone. The honest charities will want you to ask questions because they know they are legitimate.”
Some other ways people can protect themselves are to ask how donations will be spent, where the charity is located, and to never pay cash. People should also watch out for high pressure gimmicks and guilt tactics if you decide to not donate. Some questionable charities also give themselves names similar to well-known and respected charities, trying to confuse people into donating.
If you feel you have been contacted by a fraudulent charity, contact the Secretary of State’s Office at (304) 558-6000.
Secretary Tennant also reminded people that there are ways to help during the holidays other than giving a monetary donation.
“Money is tight for a lot of people these days. But remember – you can always volunteer at a shelter or other community group. A lot of times, a few hours of volunteer work is better than writing a check.”