CHARLESTON — West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey and Secretary of State Mac Warner, in coordination with International Charity Fraud Awareness Week, joined state, federal and global charity partners Wednesday in suggesting consumers consider cybersecurity in determining if they give to a charity.
Cybersecurity is a must for every charity, business and organization. It is important such entities have methods to keep files, accounts and devices secure from potential cyber attacks. Donors also should be careful to know what personal information a charity will require and what a charity will do with that data.
“Charitable giving is a wonderful way to support many worthy causes,” Attorney General Morrisey said. “However, failing to protect information can lead to identity theft and financial fraud, so it’s important to consider the tips offered by this week’s joint awareness initiative.”
Those concerned about the legitimacy of a specific charity or organization should confirm it is registered to solicit donations in West Virginia. That information can be accessed through the West Virginia Secretary of State’s Office.
“Charity Fraud Awareness Week is an annual opportunity for us to focus everyone’s attention on the tremendous and positive impact charitable giving has on West Virginia,” Secretary Warner said. “It’s important that we all work together to make sure that donations made by our citizens are made to legitimate and properly registered charities. I am pleased to work with the Attorney General, AARP and leaders of our non-profit business community to keep charity scams out of West Virginia.”
Charities should take several steps to enhance cybersecurity:
- Protect files by using passwords for laptops, tablets and smartphones.
- Encrypt devices that contain sensitive personal information.
- Store paper files in a locked cabinet or room.
- Ensure software is up to date.
- Require multi-factor authentication to access areas with sensitive information.
International Charity Fraud Awareness Week continues through Friday, Oct. 25. The coordinated effort strives to help charities and consumers avoid charity fraud and promote wise giving.
West Virginia’s Attorney General and Secretary of State – in conjunction with the West Virginia Nonprofit Association, Philanthropy West Virginia and AARP West Virginia – are participating with the National Association of State Charities Officials, the Federal Trade Commission and other U.S. partners, in addition to the Charities Commission for England & Wales, Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission, Charity Commission for Northern Ireland, New Zealand Charities Service, and the Office of the Scottish Regulator among other non-governmental participants.
Any West Virginian solicited to donate to a charity they think may be fraudulent can contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division at 1-800-368-8808, the Eastern Panhandle Consumer Protection Office in Martinsburg at 304-267-0239 or visit the office online at www.wvago.gov.