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Tennant: Beware of charity scams this Christmas

By Staff | Dec 17, 2010

CHARLESTON – Donating to charities helps our communities and state stay strong, West Virginia Secretary of State Natalie E. Tennant said in a release.

But citizens should be aware of people who aren’t looking to spread any holiday cheer.

With Christmas just around the corner, many West Virginians look to donate to a worthwhile charity. While there are thousands from which to choose, Secretary Tennant wants citizens to be aware that there may be some that only want to steal your money not help those in need.

“Unfortunately there are people who will take advantage of that generosity and try to rip us off,” she said in a release.

Tennant said there are many ways to make sure you don’t become a victim of charity fraud.

She said if you receive a phone call with someone asking you to donate, you should ask questions like how the charity plans to spend your donation and whether the charity is registered with the Secretary of State’s Office.

Most charities are required to register with the Secretary of State’s Office. If a charity raises more than $25,000 in a year, they are required to register.

However, there are charitable organizations that do not have to register. Organizations such as non-profit hospitals, one-time charities and organizations that are monitored on a national level (such as the Salvation Army) do not have to register.

“People also need to be aware of fraudulent charities whose names are very similar to well known charities,” Tennant said in the release. “And remember that the honest charities want you to ask questions because they have done everything right and are legitimate.”

A database can be found on the Secretary of State’s website at www.wvsos.com.

The Online Guide to Safe Charitable Giving can also be found on the Secretary of State’s website. The guide includes even more information on how to protect yourself from charity fraud.

If you think you have been a victim of charity fraud, contact the Secretary of State’s Office at 304-558-6000 or 1-866-767-8683.