Protect yourself, avoid scams

In the rush to help after a disaster scammers jump to take advantage of your generosity.


After a tragedy or natural disaster it is common to see go fund me pages or pleas for donations to varying organizations. This is amazing. There are negatives to how fast we get information but there are also positives such as being able to help one another in crisis.


However, sometimes there are people that are ready to take advantage of your kindness. Beware of scammers!


Donors

If you're thinking about donating, great! Just be smart about it. Here are some ways that scammers may approach you:

  • Pose as a representative of a charity to ask for money or private information

  • Set up a scam website that sounds like a real charity, or have names similar to real charities

  • When you search for a charity you know exists you find a fake website or social media. (for example: WorldVision.org is real but maybe you click on worldvisions.com)

  • 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. This includes things like Social Security numbers, credit card information, bank account numbers, and passwords.

What should you do?

  • Use the Tax Exempt Organization Search to find or verify qualified charities.

  • Don't pay donations in cash. It's best to pay by check or card so that there's a payment trail

  • Don't give out personal information to people who contact you for it. Only donate to sources you are 100% sure are legitimate.

Don't forget:

Donations to these real charities may be tax deductible.


Disaster Victims

Scammers may also pose as government agencies claiming to offer casualty loss claims or tax refunds.


Conclusion

It's always best to think twice before giving out any personal information. Think twice and ask someone you trust about what they think.


For more information check out these resources:

Disaster Assistance

National Center for Disaster Fraud


This information has been provided by the IRS. This blog post is not financial advice and is not a substitute for professional financial advice.