On November 15th the IRS sent a consumer alert to warn customers about fraudulent charities that say they will send relief to the areas struck by Typhoon Haiyan. They noted that individuals should be weary of charities that involve contact by phone, social media, email or even face to face solicitations. A large percentage of these scams come in the form of fake websites that ask for funding to help the victims. They have published a list of tips to avoid such scams. Although it is hard to believe that people would take advantage of a natural disaster that resulted in immense causalities, schemes like this have arisen in past disasters too. See Below:
- To help disaster victims, donate 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 legitimate, qualified charities; donations to these charities may be tax-deductible. Legitimate charities may also be found on the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) website at fema.gov.
- Don’t give out personal financial information — such as Social Security numbers or credit card and bank account numbers and passwords — to anyone who solicits a contribution from you. Scam artists may use this information to steal your identity and money.
- Don’t give or send cash. For security and tax record purposes, contribute by check or credit card or another way that provides documentation of the gift.
- If you plan to make a contribution for which you would like to claim a deduction, see IRSPublication 526, Charitable Contributions, to read about the kinds of organizations that can receive deductible contributions.