The Internal Revenue Service issued a warning about possible fake charity scams emerging due to Hurricane Harvey on August 29th, 2017 encouraging taxpayers to seek out recognized charitable groups for their donations.
Even though there has been an huge wave of support across many countries for the victims of Hurricane Harvey and Irma, people should be aware of how criminals take advantage of this generosity by impersonating charities to get money or private information from well-meaning people such as yourself. Fraudulent schemes like these may involve being contacted by phone, social media, email or in-person.
These shady individuals often send emails to steer recipients to bogus websites that appear to be affiliated with a legitimate charity. These sites frequently mimic the legitimate charitable sites, use names similar thereto, or claim affiliation with them in order to persuade people to send money or provide personal information that can be used to steal identities and/or finances.
IRS.gov has the tools people need to quickly and easily check the status of 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 only 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 any sensitive personal or financial information to anyone who solicits a contribution. Scam artists may use this information to steal a donor’s identity and money.
- This includes but it not limited to Social Security numbers, credit card information and bank account numbers or passwords.
- Never give or send cash!
- Always make your contributions by check or credit card or another way that provides documentation of the donation for your own security and tax record purposes.
- Publication 526 (Charitable Contributions): Tax rules that apply to legitimate tax-deductible donations that also provides complete details on what records to keep.
Taxpayers who suspect 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.