Individuals need to be extremely cautious when making contributions to relief efforts for those affected by the recent hurricanes. You should seek out recognized charitable groups for these donations.
While there has been an enormous pouring of support across the country for the victims of the recent hurricanes, people must be aware that there are criminals out there looking to take advantage of your generosity by impersonating charities. Such schemes may be in the form of telephone calls, social media email or in person solicitations.
Criminals often send e-mails that redirect recipients to websites that appear to be legitimate. These sites will look very similar to, or use names or logos of actual charities or claim to be affiliated to real charitable organizations.
The IRS cautions people wishing to make disaster-related charitable donations to avoid scam artists by following these tips:
- Be sure to donate to recognized charities.
- Be wary of charities with names that are similar to familiar or nationally known organizations. Some phony charities use names or websites that sound or look like those of respected, legitimate organizations. The IRS website at IRS.gov has a search feature, Exempt Organizations Select Check, through which people may find qualified charities; donations to these charities may be tax-deductible.
- Don’t give out personal financial information — such as Social Security numbers or credit card and bank account numbers and passwords — to anyone who solicits a contribution. Scam artists may use this information to steal a donor’s identity and money.
- Never give or send cash. For security and tax record purposes, contribute by check or credit card or another way that provides documentation of the donation.
- Consult IRS Publication 526, Charitable Contributions, available on IRS.gov. This free booklet describes the tax rules that apply to making legitimate tax-deductible donations. Among other things, it also provides complete details on what records to keep.
Taxpayers suspecting fraud by email should visit IRS.gov and search for the keywords “Report Phishing.”
More information about tax scams and schemes may be found at IRS.gov using the keywords “scams and schemes.” Details on available relief can be found on the disaster relief page on IRS.gov.
If you would like more information or to set up an appointment with one of our certified counselors, please give Consumer Credit Counseling Service a call at 937-643-2227 or 800-377-2432. We are here to help!