The IRS warns consumers not to fall for bogus charity scams. They often occur in the wake of major disasters like the recent tornadoes in the Midwest or the typhoon in the Philippines. Thieves play on the goodwill of people who want to help disaster victims. They pose as a real charity in order to steal money or get private information to commit identity theft.
The scams use different tactics. Offering charity relief, criminals often:
- Claim to be with real charities to gain public trust.
- Use names similar to legitimate charities.
- Use email to steer people to bogus websites that often look like real charity sites.
- Contact people by phone or email to get them to ‘donate’ money or give their financial information.
The IRS offers the following tips to help taxpayers who wish to donate to victims:
- Donate to qualified charities. Use the Exempt Organizations Select Check tool at IRS.gov to find qualified charities. Only donations to qualified organizations are tax-deductible. You can also find legitimate charities at the Federal Emergency Management Agency website, fema.gov. For more information about the kinds of charities that can receive deductible contributions, see Publication 526, Charitable Contributions.
- Don’t give out information. Don’t give your Social Security number, credit card and bank account numbers or passwords to anyone. Scam artists use this information to steal your identity and money.
- Don’t give or send cash. For security and tax record purposes, don’t give or send cash. Contribute by check, credit card or another way that provides documentation of the donation.
- Report suspected fraud. If you suspect tax or charity-related fraud, visit IRS.gov and click on ‘Reporting Phishing’ at the bottom of the home page.