Unfortunately, the IRS has once again had to warn about possible fake charity scams that are emerging due to Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. Taxpayers should seek out recognized charitable groups to make donations if they want to help.
“While there has been an enormous wave of support across the country for the victims of Hurricane Harvey, people should be aware of criminals who look to take advantage of this generosity by impersonating charities to get money or private information from well-meaning taxpayers,” the IRS stated. Such fraudulent schemes may involve in-person solicitations or contact by telephone, e-mail, and social media.
Criminals often send “phishing” e-mail messages that steer recipients to bogus websites that appear to be affiliated with legitimate charitable causes. These sites frequently try to imitate the websites of — or use names similar to — genuine charities. They sometimes claim to be affiliated with legitimate charities in order to persuade people to send money or provide personal financial information that can be used to steal identities or financial resources.
Follow These Four Tips
Follow these tips in order to make disaster-related charitable donations while helping to avoid scam artists:
1. Donate to recognized charities. But be wary of charities attempting to contact you with familiar names. Some phony charities use names or websites that sound or look like those of respected, legitimate, nationally known organizations. The IRS website has a search feature, Exempt Organizations Select Check. With it, people can find qualified charities and donations to these charities may be tax-deductible (depending on your tax filing status and other factors).
2. Don’t give out personal financial information — such as credit card and bank account numbers, passwords, or Social Security numbers — to anyone who solicits a contribution. Scam artists may use this information to steal your identity and money.
3. Never give or send cash. Contribute by check or credit card or another way that provides documentation of the donation for security and tax record purposes.
4. Report suspected fraud. Taxpayers suspecting tax or charity-related fraud should visit IRS.gov and perform a search using the keywords “Report Phishing.”
Want More Information?
Additional information about donations can be found in IRS Publication 526, Charitable Contributions, available on IRS.gov. The free booklet describes the tax rules that apply to making legitimate tax-deductible donations. It also provides complete details on what records to keep.
Details on available relief can be found on the disaster relief page, and more information about tax scams and schemes can be found at IRS.gov using the keywords “scams and schemes.”
And you can always contact Filler & Associates with questions about the tax implications of charitable contributions.