IRS warns about natural disaster ‘charity’ scams

 

The IRS recently released a new listing on its Dirty Dozen list of tax scams (News Release 2024–92) warning taxpayers about purported charitable organizations that often appear after a natural disaster or other tragic events. These organizations are not qualified charitable organizations but are scams designed to steal taxpayers’ donations and gather personal and financial information that can be used for identity fraud.

The Dirty Dozen is a list of scams and schemes that taxpayers should be aware of to protect themselves from losing money and more. The IRS has kept this since 2002.

The scam works to exploit taxpayers’ generosity during the time of a disaster. After a disaster the scammers will contact taxpayers by telephone, email, or other means; to solicit donations for the victims of the disaster. Any funds and information gathered are not provided to assist the victims, but are diverted to the benefit of the scammers, and the personal information gathered is used for additional fraudulent purposes. Contributions to these illegitimate organizations do not qualify for the income tax charitable deduction. 

The IRS offered several tips avoid getting scammed:

  • Don’t give into high pressure appeals for donations, take your time, and do your research.
  • Verify the authenticity of the charity. Beware of similar sounding names of legitimate charities. 
  • Taxpayers should request the charity’s name, so that they can independently verify its authenticity. 
  • Taxpayers can utilize the Tax-Exempt Organization Search (TEOS) tool at IRS.gov to check legitimacy.
  • Use caution when making contributions. Do not use wire transfers or gift cards to make donations.
  • Avoid sharing too much of your personal information. Do not disclose Social Security numbers, credit card numbers or personal identification numbers. Only provide payment information after confirming the legitimacy of the charity.    
Grant Thornton Insight

Taxpayers who believe they may have made a contribution to a fraudulent organization should contact the IRS, their financial institution, and other law-enforcement authorities.

 

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