Morrisey urges caution when giving to hurricane relief

W.Va. Attorney General Patrick Morrisey

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The destruction Hurricane Laura has caused on the Gulf Coast has many people wanting to chip in to help, but one official is urging the public to remain cautious when opening their wallets.

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey says criminals will try to take advantage of the desire to help to scam the unsuspecting.

He recommends checking out any organization requesting a donation by visiting guide-star or charity-navigator online.

He also recommends using a credit card when giving, as that is the safest option for security and tax purposes.

Other recommendations 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 hurricane relief.
  • 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 a charity or organization’s website instead of clicking on a link to the desired group.
  • Any online contribution website should start with https://. The “s” verifies a secure connection, making it less likely for personal information to be stolen.
  • 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.

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