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Avoiding Charity Fraud (June 1, 2017)

Avoiding Charity Fraud

After listening to the news with stories about natural disasters, good hearted people can’t help but think of ways to help those less fortunate, who have lost everything during those natural disasters. However, good hearted people aren’t the only ones thinking, scam artists are thinking too, but not of ways to help out, they are thinking of ways they can benefit from the suffering and well intentions of others. As a result it is common for scam artists to impersonate charities to get money or private information from well-intentioned taxpayers, after significant nature disasters occur. There are various strategies that scam artists can and have used, to impersonate charitable organization and scam well-intentioned taxpayers. Some scammers whom have created fake charities may contact people by telephone or email to solicit money or financial information. In some cases they may even directly contact disaster victims and claim to be working for or on behalf of the IRS to help the victims file claims for casualty losses and get tax refunds.

Fake websites may solicit funds for disaster victims Scam artists may attempt to get personal financial information, such as Social Security numbers that can be used for identity theft or financial resources, via these fake websites. Below are a few tips that good hearted taxpayers, and even disaster victims, can follow to avoid charity fraud, when donating money after a disaster occurs:

  • Donate to recognized charities.
  • Be aware of charities with names that are similar to familiar or nationally known organizations. Some counterfeit charities use names or websites that sound or look like those of respected, legitimate organizations. The IRS has a search feature on their website, Exempt Organizations, which allows people to search and find legitimate, qualified charities to which donations may be tax-deductible.
  • Don’t give out personal or financial information, such as Social Security numbers or credit card numbers, to anyone who solicits a contribution from you. Scam artists will use this personal and financial information to steal your identity and money.
  • Don’t give cash donations. For your records and security, contribute by check, credit card or any other way that will provide documentation of the gift.

Remember when things seem too good to be true, they probably are. Although, there will always be good-hearted people, with good-intentions, there will also always be scam artists trying to benefits from others suffering.

By Maria Gonzalez, Staff Accountant at Myers, Brettholtz & Company, PA. Maria can be reached at maria.gonzalez@mbcopa.com or 239.690.4250.

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