Be Sure You’re Helping Disaster Victims Not Scammers

disaster victims
Photo by: Petty Officer 2nd Class Jonathan Lally/Public Domain

Criminals take advantage of the compassionate at every opportunity.

Tragedy is no exception. Anyone with a heart wants to help those in Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico and the Caribbean who have been devastated by the recent spate of hurricanes. However, those without a heart are all set to fill their pockets with the donations of the unsuspecting compassionate folks.

Beware of emails, texts and phone calls you get to request donations for disaster victims.

The IRS has actually issued a warning about this topic. They know fake charity scams emerge during disasters and they encourage taxpayers to “seek out recognized charitable groups for their donations.”

An IRS news release stated, “While there has been an enormous wave of support across the country for the victims of Hurricane Harvey, people should be aware of criminals who look to take advantage of this generosity by impersonating charities to get money or private information from well-meaning tax payers. Such fraudulent schemes may involve contact by telephone, social media, email or in-person solicitations.”

The information looks legit, but still do your research and don’t be fooled. Criminals typically send emails that steer people to bogus websites that appear to be affiliated with legitimate charitable causes. According to the IRS, “These 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 people to send money or provide personal financial information that can be used to steal identities or financial resources.”

More information about tax scams and schemes may be found at IRS.gov using the keywords “scams and schemes.” Details on available relief can be found on the disaster relief page on IRS.gov.