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When Disaster Strikes Tax Scam Artists Go to Work

Orlando-UnitedIf the mass murder in Orlando last month wasn’t tragic enough, another group of criminals are now striking out to make an unthinkable situation even more heinous.

If you’re considering donating money to a charitable organization to help the families of the Orlando Pulse victims, think twice before you give.

There will be scam artists calling and reaching out in a variety of ways looking to take advantage of the heartbroken people around the country who want to help in some way.

Be Aware of IRS Warning

According to a report in AccountingToday.com, “The IRS has issued a consumer alert about possible fake charity scams in the wake of last weekend’s mass shooting in Orlando, Fla.” This is something that comes up after every tragedy and natural disaster. The article states, “Scam artists commonly try to take advantage of generosity after such a headline tragedy by impersonating charities to get money or private information from taxpayers, the agency warns. Such fraudulent schemes may involve contact by telephone, social media, e-mail or in-person solicitations.”

Keep Your Head in Charge

Don’t let your heart override your head. Before you trustingly give to anyone who reaches out to you, do your research.  Scammers often send e-mails that steer recipients to bogus sites that appear to be affiliated with legitimate charitable causes. Bogus Web sites may solicit funds for victims of this tragedy, frequently mimicking the sites of legitimate charities or claiming to be affiliated with legitimate charities. Or make a personal commitment to only give to charities you know.

The IRS also cautions donors to follow a few well-guided tips in order to avoid being scammed. Staying alert and arming yourself with information is the best way to avoid the parasitic criminals that feed on and create tragedy on  top of tragedy.

  • Donate only to recognized charities and beware of charities with names similar to familiar or nationally known organizations. Some phony charities use names or Web sites that sound or look like those of respected, legitimate organizations. Keep in mind that the IRS Exempt Organizations Select Check feature, helps find qualified charities. Only donations made to legitimate charities may also 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.
  • 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.

The IRS also advises that if you receive an email by any person or group soliciting funds for the Orlando mass murder that you suspect are fraudulent, visit IRS.gov and search for the keywords “Report Phishing.” More information about tax scams and schemes may be found at IRS.gov using the keywords “scams and schemes.” 

 

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