With all of the wildfires, hurricanes and other weather related damage that have occurred recently, you may be approached by a charity to help contribute to the relief efforts. Although there are many organizations helping in the areas affected by the wildfires, hurricanes and other weather events, there will also be many criminals that will try to take advantage of the devastation. Criminals will not only take money that a person has donated to the “charity” but may also try to steal the person’s identity.
Criminals may use one or several fraudulent schemes to get an individual to donate to their “charity”. Several of the ways that an individual may be solicited include telephone calls, social media, email or in-person solicitations. Through the solicitations the criminals may request an individual donate money to the “charity” and/or provide personal information including social security number, credit card number, bank account numbers and passwords. Criminals may also request donations be made in cash which the IRS suggests against since there is no documentation for a cash transaction. It is suggested that a donation be made either by check or credit card so that documentation is available for both security and tax purposes.
To be sure that you are donating to a legitimate charity the IRS has a search tool on its website that allows donors to look up qualified charities. The IRS provides this tool to help donors make informed decisions on donations made to charities. The website for the tool is https://www.irs.gov/charities-non-profits/exempt-organizations-select-check.
Posted by Patrick Runge