During the holiday season, the Internal Revenue Service IRS has issued a warning about the increase in charity frauds that exploit the generosity often associated with this time of year. These fraudulent activities often involve criminals seeking to obtain both money and personal information, which can lead to identity theft risks.
To protect yourself from these scams, the IRS advises conducting careful research before making any donations and avoiding any charity that demands immediate contributions. For verifying a charity’s authenticity, the IRS recommends using its Tax-Exempt Organization Search (TEOS) tool. This tool helps in confirming a charity’s legitimacy, its eligibility for tax-deductible donations, and accessing information about its tax-exempt status and related filings.
IRS essential tips to protect yourself from charity fraud and scams
Other reliable resources for checking charity credibility include the Better Business Bureau, Charity Navigator, and Charity Watch. Additionally, the IRS suggests consulting the FBI’s guidance on Charity and Disaster Fraud for further protection. It’s important to be cautious and ensure that your charitable actions benefit legitimate organizations.
To prevent falling prey to charity scams, be aware that scammers might use tactics such as phishing emails, fake websites, and caller ID spoofing to impersonate well-known charities. They often target groups like the elderly and those not fluent in English.
To defend against charity fraud, follow these tips:
- Verify: Scammers may use names similar to reputable charities. Always confirm the charity’s exact name, website, and mailing address. The TEOS tool is a reliable source for verifying a charity’s status.
- Avoid Pressure: Be wary of anyone pushing for immediate donations. Genuine charities will welcome contributions at any time.
- Be Cautious with Personal Information: Scammers often seek personal details. Guard your information carefully.
- Safe Payment Methods: Be suspicious of charities asking for donations via gift cards or wire transfers. Use secure payment methods like credit cards or checks after confirming the charity’s legitimacy.
Remember, charitable contributions are tax-deductible only if you itemize your deductions and donate to IRS-recognized tax-exempt organizations. Stay alert to protect yourself and ensure your donations are making a real difference.