October 30, 2014

After recent Boston bombing and Texas tragedies, IRS warns donors about charity scams (AUDIO)

The Internal Revenue Service is warning Missouri donors about charity scams following the recent tragedies in Boston and Texas. Missourians who wish to help and donate to victims of the recent tragedies at the Boston Marathon or the Texas fertilizer plant explosion are urged to only donate to qualified charities.

Missouri IRS spokesman Michael Devine says he warns folks of scam artists that impersonate charities to steal money or get private, financial information from well-intentioned taxpayers. “Everyone should know that some of these scam artists operate bogus charities and they will call you by phone to solicit money or  your financial information, such as a bank account or a credit card number,” Devine said. “Sometimes they will steer you to a bogus website that will try to get you to fill in information to solicit funds and those are probably scams, and you need to be very careful of them.”

He says fraudulent schemes involve solicitations by phone, social media, email or in-person. “The important thing to remember anytime you want to donate is to check and make sure that whoever is asking you for the donation is who they say they are,” Devine said. He says most charities are going to make general statements requesting for generous donors to give to their organization for disaster relief.

Devine says a few things to keep in mind are to never give out personal information, don’t give or send cash, and to report any suspected fraud.

The IRS offers the following tips to help taxpayers who wish to donate to victims of the recent tragedies at the Boston Marathon and a Texas fertilizer plant:

·        Donate to qualified charities.  Use the Exempt Organizations Select Check tool at IRS.gov to find qualified charities. Only donations to qualified charitable organizations are tax-deductible. You can also find legitimate charities on the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Web site at fema.gov.

·        Be wary of charities with similar names.  Some phony charities use names that are similar to familiar or nationally known organizations. They may use names or websites that sound or look like those of legitimate organizations.

·        Don’t give out personal financial information. Do not give your Social Security number, credit card and bank account numbers and passwords to anyone who solicits a contribution from you. Scam artists 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 donation.

 ·        Report suspected fraud.  Taxpayers suspecting tax or charity-related fraud should visit IRS.gov and perform a search using the keywords “Report Phishing.”

 For more information about tax scams, visit www.irs.gov and use the keywords “scams and schemes.”

 

 AUDIO: Mary Farucci reports. (1:02)