Attorney General Morrisey Urges Citizens To Use Caution With Holiday Charitable Giving
CHARLESTON—Attorney General Patrick Morrisey today urged citizens to be cautious and to do their due diligence in researching the charitable organizations before giving donations during the holiday season.
“As the holiday season begins, solicitation for charitable giving will start to increase both for the holidays as well as potential major weather events as winter begins.” Morrisey said. “While giving to charities is encouraged, our Office would like to make sure that consumers have all the information they need before giving to prevent fraud.”
By doing some research before giving to a charity, you can avoid scammers who are constantly trying to take advantage of consumers. Before you donate to a charity, please take the following precautions provided by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC):
• Ask for detailed information about the charity, including name, address, and telephone number.
• Get the exact name of the organization and do some research. Search the name of the organization online with the word “complaint(s)” or “scam” to find out its reputation.
• Call the charity. Find out if the organization is aware of the solicitation and has authorized the use of its name. The organization’s development staff should be able to help you.
• If the donation request is local, ask the local agency is they have authorized the group to solicit donations on their behalf.
While doing your research in the process of giving your donation, here are some signs that you may be giving to a fraudulent charity:
• The charity will not provide detailed information about its identity, mission, or how the donations are used.
• Uses a name that closely resembles a better-known, reputable organization.
• Will not provide proof the contribution is tax deductible.
• Says you have given to them before but you don’t remember giving to that organization.
• Pressures you into donating immediately, without giving you time to do your research
• Asks that donations be paid in cash or wire transfer
“The holidays can be a wonderful time to give to those less fortunate than you,” Morrisey said. “With today’s technology, there are more and more ways for consumers to be scammed by phone, online, and in person solicitation. Scammers will often try hard selling you into donating immediately. Just taking that extra day to do a little research on the organization will arm you with the information needed to make the best decision possible and avoid fraudulent organizations.”
If you are solicited for a donation to a charity that you believe may be fraudulent or have been scammed by a fraudulent charity, please contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Office at 1-800-368-8808.