WASHINGTON — With the tragic crises and natural disasters happening around the globe, many are responding to the call to give what they can to help. The Internal Revenue Service today warned taxpayers to be wary of criminals soliciting donations and falsely posing as legitimate charities. When fake charities scam unsuspecting donors, the proceeds don’t go to those who need the help and those contributing to these fake charities can’t deduct their donations on their tax return.
"We all want to help innocent victims and their families," said IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel. "Knowing we're trying to aid those who are suffering, criminals crawl out of the woodwork to prey on those most vulnerable – people who simply want to help. Especially during these challenging times, don't feel pressured to immediately give to a charity you've never heard of. Check out the charity first and confirm it is authentic."
Those who wish to make donations should use the Tax-Exempt Organization Search (TEOS) tool on IRS.gov to help find or verify qualified, legitimate charities.
With the TEOS, people can:
In addition, the IRS urges anyone encountering a fake or suspicious charity to see the FBI's resources on Charity and Disaster Fraud.
Criminals commonly set up bogus charities to take advantage of the public's generosity during international crises or natural disasters. Typically, they seek money and personal information, which can be used to further exploit victims through identity theft.
Fake charity promoters may use emails, fake websites, or alter or "spoof" their caller ID to make it look like a real charity is calling to solicit donations. Criminals often target seniors and groups with limited English proficiency.
Here are some tips to protect against fake charity scams:
Taxpayers who give money or goods to a charity can claim a deduction if they itemize deductions, but these donations only count if they go to a qualified tax-exempt organization recognized by the IRS.