Fake Charities on the IRS’ “DIRTY DOZEN” List

During tax season, we all have enough to worry about. We’re gathering all our tax documents, including those nice deductions from charitable deductions.

Are you sure all those donations were made to a qualified charity?

The IRS warns taxpayers about groups masquerading as charitable organizations to steal donations. “Fake charities set up by scam artists to steal your money or personal information is a recurring problem,” says IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. “Taxpayers should take the time to research organizations before giving their hard-earned money.”

How can you keep this from happening to you?

Follow these four tips when making charitable donations:

1. Only donate to known, qualified charities. Fraudulent charities sometimes use names or websites that are similar to legitimate charities. IRS.gov has a search feature, Exempt Organizations Select Check, so you can check for qualified charities.

2. Watch for bogus donation solicitations after a major disaster event. Another long-standing scam that occurs after major disasters is to impersonate charities to get money or private information from well-intentioned taxpayers. Scam artists use a variety of tactics, such as contacting people by web or phone solicitations, or going directly to disaster victims and claim to be IRS workers.

3. Don’t give out personal financial information. Scam artists may use Social Security numbers or passwords to steal your identity and money. People make legitimate donations using credit cards but don’t give out your information when speaking with someone who has called you. Confirm the organization and call them back, or make the donation online.

4. 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.

You work hard for your money. Following these tips could prevent you from “donating” your money to a scam artist instead of a qualified charity.