(WIAT) — The Internal Revenue Service is warning people to watch out for charity scams in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.
The IRS says people should be aware of criminals who try to take advantage of the generosity of people wanting to help. They will often impersonate charities to get money or private information. Schemes can involve contact by phone, social media, email, or in person.
The site IRS.gov has resources to help you check the status of a charitable organization before you make a donation. The IRS also issued these tips for avoiding charity scams:
- Be sure to 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, through which people may find qualified charities; donations to these charities may be tax-deductible.
- 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. Scam artists may use this information to steal a donor’s identity and money.
- Never give or send cash. For security and tax record purposes, contribute by check or credit card or another way that provides documentation of the donation.
- Consult IRS Publication 526, Charitable Contributions, available on IRS.gov. This free booklet describes the tax rules that apply to making legitimate tax-deductible donations. Among other things, it also provides complete details on what records to keep.
If you suspect you’ve received a fraudulent email, you can report it at IRS.gov by searching “Report Phishing”.