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Disaster Relief

IRS warning: make sure Hurricane Florence relief charities are legit

Thomson Reuters Tax & Accounting  

Thomson Reuters Tax & Accounting  

IR 2018-188, 9/18/2018

In a news release, IRS has cautioned those wishing to make charitable contributions to aid Hurricane Florence victims to avoid the scams that often follow major disasters. Noting that it is common for scam artists to impersonate charities to get money or private information from taxpayers, IRS offered a number of tips for taxpayers to follow in making donations.

Facts. Hurricane Florence made landfall in North Carolina on Friday, September 14th, bringing strong winds and record-breaking rainfall that has caused severe flooding in many areas.

For more details on what counties have been designated as eligible for disaster relief as of Sept. 18, 2018, see here. IRS has noted that it expects this list to grow.

Cautioned to be wary. IRS warned people wishing to make disaster-related charitable donations that criminals and scammers may try to take advantage of them. IRS noted that fraudulent schemes normally start with unsolicited contact by telephone, social media, e-mail or in-person using a variety of tactics. These include, among others, impersonating charities to get money or private information; setting up bogus websites using names similar to legitimate charities to trick people into sending money or providing personal information; claiming to work for or on behalf of IRS to help victims file casually loss claims and get tax refunds; and operating bogus charities and soliciting money or financial information via phone or email.

IRS offered several tips for taxpayers to follow:

  • . . . Use the search feature, “Exempt Organizations Select Check,” on the IRS website, to help find or verify qualified charities.
  • . . . Contribute by check or credit card—not cash.
  • . . . 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.

Taxpayers suspecting disaster-related frauds should go to the IRS website and search for the keywords “Report Phishing.” More information about tax scams and schemes can be found at the IRS website by using the keywords “scams and schemes.”

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