The IRS recently released a bulletin warning victims and consumers wanting to donate to a disaster relief charity to be on the look-out for scams that pop up as a result of Hurricane Sandy. The IRS recommends four tips to avoiding disaster scams: (read the full bulletin for more details).
- Only give donations to recognized charitable organizations.
- Don’t be fooled by charities with a “similar” name to a recognized charitable organization. Scammers hook people by using names or websites that are “close” to the legitimate charity. Check the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Web site fema.gov or the IRS.gov search feature titled Exempt Organizations Select Check to find legitimate, qualified charities. Donations to these organizations may be tax-deductible.
- NEVER give out personal financial information including Social Security numbers, credit card, bank account numbers and passwords to anyone soliciting a contribution. Scammers have no trouble asking you for this information to steal your money and commit identity theft.
- NEVER give or send cash – only contribute via check or credit card. The benefit is that it provides you with documentation and is better for security and tax purposes.
Other Scam Tactics to be aware of:
- Some scammers operating bogus charities may contact people by telephone to solicit money or financial information.
- Some may contact disaster victims directly claiming they are with the IRS bringing tax help to victims so they can file casualty loss claims and get tax refunds. BEWARE: This is an attempt to get personal financial information to steal the victims’ identities or financial resources.
- Scammers often send e-mail that steer the recipient to bogus websites that appear to be affiliated with legitimate charitable organizations.
The IRS is encouraging hurricane victims with specific questions about disaster related tax relief issues to call their toll-free disaster assistance telephone number, 1-866-562-5227.
More Tax Help, IRS News and Tax Relief Tips:
- Taxpayers Must Beware of Tax Relief Firms That Misrepresent Their Ability to Resolve IRS Problems
- Settling IRS Tax Debt: What Taxpayers Don’t Know About Tax Resolution Could Hurt Them
- Tax Resolution After Receiving IRS Audit
- New Offer in Compromise Policies Bring Tax Relief
- Tax Help Tips: Unlawful Deductions Can Cost You More Money in Penalties Than It Can “Save You”