Ashton Marra Published

How to "BEWARE" of Fraud During Holidays


The holiday season is often thought of as a time for giving, but state officials want West Virginians to be cautious as they choose who to donate to this year.

To protect yourself and your family from scams, the West Virginia Secretary of State’s Office is urging you to ask questions of solicitors calling your home, research each organization before you decide to give and report any charity you believe may be fraudulent.

The office advises using the “BEWARE” method as warning signs for potentially fraudulent charities:

Bills or invoices are sent to you even though you never pledge money to the organization

Evasive, vague, or unresponsive answers to specific questions about the organization and how the money is used

Words making up a charity’s name that closely resemble a more-well known charity

Allowing you no time to reconsider your pledge; they insist on collecting your money immediately

Refusal to answer questions about where your money will go or refusal to send more information about the charity

Emotional appeals and high pressure tactics to get you to make a quick donation, or they make you feel guilty if you do not wish to contribute

The Secretary of State’s Office keeps a database of all charities licensed to solicit donations from West Virginians.

If you are contacted by an organization you believe to be fraudulent, call the Charities’ Division at (304) 558-6000.