After a natural disaster, people often rally to help victims by donating money to charitable organizations that help disaster victims. Unfortunately, this can allow criminals to prey on them by soliciting donations from fake charities. As such, before donating to charity, people should ensure their money goes to a reputable organization.
What taxpayers should know:
Be suspicious of unsolicited contact. Scammers often contact their possible victims by telephone, social media, email, or in person. They may also pose as federal agencies to dupe disaster victims trying to get disaster relief. Taxpayers should also know or be aware of the following:
- Thieves may pose as a representative of a charity to ask for money or private information from well-intentioned taxpayers.
- Scammers may set up bogus websites using names that sound like real charities. When a taxpayer searches for a charity online, they find a fake website or social media page instead.
- Donors can use the Tax Exempt Organization Search tool on IRS.gov to find or verify qualified charities. Donations to these real charities may be tax deductible.
- Taxpayers should always give by check or credit card to have a record of the donation.
- Donors shouldn’t give out personal financial information to anyone who asks for money, such as Social Security numbers, credit card information, bank account numbers, and passwords.
What disaster victims should know:
- Scammers may claim to work for the IRS. The thieves say they can help victims file casualty loss claims and get tax refunds.
- Disaster victims can call the IRS disaster assistance line at 866-562-5227. IRS representatives will answer questions about tax relief or disaster-related tax issues.
If you think you’ve been a victim of a charitable scam, it’s important to take immediate action. If you have any questions or need assistance, help is just a phone call away.