Small Business Taxes & Management
IRS Warns Consumers of Possible Scams Relating to South Carolina Flood Victim Relief
Small Business Taxes & ManagementTM--Copyright 2015, A/N Group, Inc.
It's sad, but there's nothing like a natural disaster to bring out the scammers and con artists. The IRS has issued a consumer alert about possible fake charity scams emerging due to severe flooding this month in South Carolina and neighboring states.
Following major disasters, it is 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.
The IRS cautions people wishing to make disaster-related charitable donations to avoid scam artists by following these tips:
- 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, through which people may find legitimate, qualified charities; donations to these charities may be tax-deductible. Legitimate charities may also be found on the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) website 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.
- If you plan to make a contribution for which you would like to claim a deduction, see IRS Publication 526, Charitable Contributions, to read about the kinds of organizations that can receive deductible contributions.
Some additional suggestions:
- National, recognized charities almost always respond quickly to these disasters. A donation to the Red Cross, Salvation Army, etc. can often provide more relief for the dollar. Often you can designate how you wish the funds to be spent. A local charity may not be equipped to respond, unless they're in the immediate area.
- If you want to donate at a local level, best to give to a local church or other religious organization or food bank, unless you're familiar with the local organization.
- Cash, check, or credit card donations work best. While eventually many victims will need new wardrobes, that's not a critical need. Clothing donations in the Boston area are unlikely to get to South Carolina.
Bogus websites may solicit funds for disaster victims. Such fraudulent sites frequently mimic the sites of, or use names similar to, legitimate charities, or claim to be affiliated with legitimate charities in order to persuade members of the public to send money or provide personal financial information that can be used to steal identities or financial resources.
Additionally, scammers often send email that steers the recipient to bogus websites that appear to be affiliated with legitimate charitable causes.
More information about tax scams and schemes may be found at IRS.gov using the keywords “scams and schemes.”
Copyright 2015 by A/N Group, Inc. This publication is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered. It is distributed with the understanding that the publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting, or other professional service. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. The information is not necessarily a complete summary of all materials on the subject. Copyright is not claimed on material from U.S. Government sources.--ISSN 1089-1536
--Last Update 10/09/15