In the wake of the Typhoon Haiyan disaster in the Phillipines, the IRS is warning consumers to be alert for unscrupulous scam artists who are taking advantage of the generous nature of the American people to fraudulently obtain money and private information. These fake solicitations may come over the phone, through e-mail or over the Internet, or in person.
You must be on high alert for these shady scam artists in order to protect your donation and safeguard your personal financial information. The IRS has issued the following guidelines to help you avoid falling victim to a “disaster scammer”:
- If you wish to donate to relief efforts in the Phillipines, do so through a recognized charity. In many cases donations are tax deductible.
- Be aware that some scammers will use names that are similar to well-known, legitimate charitable organizations. The IRS website (www.IRS.gov) includes a search feature, Exempt Organizations Select Check, through which people may find legitimate, qualified charities.
- You can also find a list of legitimate disaster relief organizations on the website of the Federal Emergency Management Administration (www.FEMA.gov).
- Never give out personal financial information, including Social Security numbers, credit card account numbers, or banking information.
- Do not send cash. Use a check or credit card to make your donation so that you have documentation and proof of the gift.
- For more information on which types of charitable donations may be tax deductible, visit IRS Publication 526, Charitable Contributions.
If you suspect you may have been scammed by a fraudulent disaster relief charity, visit the IRS website and search for “Report Phishing.”
For more information on protecting your personal information, or about tax deductions for legitimate charitable contributions, please call the Gray, Gray & Gray Tax Department at (781) 407-0300.