IRS Warns of Hurricane Sandy Charity Scams

A consumer alert offers tips to make sure your donations really go to those who need assistance.

As the giving season approaches and thousands of Northeast residents continue a long, difficult recovery from Superstorm Sandy, the IRS is reminding people to be careful with their donations to avoid scams.

"Following major disasters, it’s common for scam artists to impersonate charities to get money or private information from well-intentioned taxpayers. Such fraudulent schemes may involve contact by telephone, social media, email or in-person solicitations," according to an IRS consumer warning.

The IRS provided these specific tips in their consumer warning:

  • To help disaster victims, donate to recognized charities.
  • Be wary of charities with names that are similar to familiar or nationally known organizations. Some phony charities use names or websites that sound or look like those of respected, legitimate organizations. The IRS website at IRS.gov has a search feature, Exempt Organizations Select Check, which allows people to find legitimate, qualified charities to which donations may be tax-deductible. Legitimate charities may also be found on the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Web site at fema.gov
  • Don’t give out personal financial information — such as Social Security numbers or credit card and bank account numbers and passwords — to anyone who solicits a contribution from you. Scam artists may use this information to steal your identity and money.
  • Don’t give or send cash. For security and tax record purposes, contribute by check or credit card or another way that provides documentation of the gift.

Taxpayers who think someone is trying to run a disaster-related fraudulent scheme should call IRS disaster assistance line at 866-562-5227. Or, visit IRS.gov using the keywords “scams and schemes.” 

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