Consumer Alert: Fake Charity Scams

Consumer Alert: Fake Charity Scams

It’s the holiday season and that means it’s that time of year when the majority of charities start soliciting for year-end donations.  And that means that it’s the perfect time of year when fake charities start showing up in force hoping to convince you to give them a monetary donation.

Well, we would like to caution you that before you are thinking about donating to any charity, we encourage you to be sure and check out the website and use their search feature, Exempt Organizations Select Check, which allows you to find legitimate, qualified charities to which donations may be tax-deductible.  This simple process will ensure you that you’re not giving to a scam.

Additionally, take a look at the following tips to make sure your contributions are going to legitimate charities rather than a charity scam:

  • Fake charities often times will use names that are very similar to familiar or nationally known organizations. Some phony charities use names or websites that sound or look like those of respected, legitimate organizations.
  • Using a credit card to make legitimate donations is quite common, but be very careful when you are speaking with someone who called you; don’t give out your credit card number unless you are certain the caller represents a legal charity.  Most important is to never give out personal financial information, such as Social Security numbers or passwords, to anyone who solicits a contribution from you since that information can be used to steal your identity as well as your money.
  • For security and tax record purposes, contribute by check or credit card or another way that provides documentation of the gift. Don’t give or send cash.

As you may know, scams and fraud also occurs in the wake of significant natural disasters. Some scammers operating bogus charities and contact people by telephone or email to solicit money or financial information as well as set up phony websites that claim to solicit funds on behalf disaster victims. Unscrupulous individuals may even directly contact disaster victims and claim to be working for or on behalf of the IRS to help the victims file casualty loss claims to get tax refunds.  Disaster victims with specific questions about tax relief or disaster-related tax issues may call a special IRS toll-free disaster assistance telephone number (1-866-562-5227) for information.

Bottom line, always trust your instincts – if it doesn’t feel right, then don’t do it!  Remember:  Deductions to charities that are not legitimate are not tax deductible so please be sure that you are donating to recognized charities.  As always, please give this office a call if you have concerns regarding fake charities.

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