Tennant warns of charity scams following Sandy - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

Tennant warns of charity scams following Sandy

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Secretary of State Natalie Tennant hasn't received any complaints of fraudulent charity scams following Superstorm Sandy, but that doesn't mean they won't happen.

Tennant issued a news release Nov. 1 warning West Virginians of possible fraudulent charities who may try to solicit donations for storm victims. Charities licensed to do business in West Virginia are listed on a searchable database maintained by the secretary of state's office. If residents are solicited by phone, Tennant encouraged them to ask if the charity is licensed in West Virginia to solicit donations and how the donation will be used.

Tennant said residents need to be careful of people who may prey on their willingness to help the millions of storm victims.

"There are so many citizens watching news coverage of Hurricane Sandy and wondering how they can help," Tennant said. "We are very caring people and unfortunately there are people out there who prey on that. If you are contacted by someone over the phone who pressures you into giving or makes you feel guilty if you don't donate, or if they don't answer the questions you ask, it's a red flag that they may not be legitimate."

  • Tennant offered other tips to help residents protect themselves from fraudulent charity scams:
  • Know your charity: Never give to a charity that you know nothing about and who refuses to answer questions about where the money will go.
  • Don't yield to pressure: Don't feel as though you must donate immediately.
  • Demand identification: Ask for identification from both the solicitor and the charity. If the solicitor refuses, hang up immediately.
  • Beware the name game: Be wary of crooked charities that have a name similar to a well-respected charity.
  • Be prudent when giving your credit card number: Write a check and use the charity's full name. That way you have a record of the contribution and exactly where your money went.
  • When in doubt, do research: Check the secretary of state's searchable database.

 

Not all charities are listed on the database, however, For example, the Red Cross is monitored at the federal level. The Salvation Army is not listed on the database because it is a religious organization and exempt from the registration requirement.

The database can be found at http://apps.sos.wv.gov/business/charities/index.aspx.