It is no surprise that criminals are taking advantage of Hurricane Harvey and those generous people that are trying to to help the victims. These scammers often impersonate charities to collect cash directly or use the fraudulent identities to collect personal information from those attempting to donate.
These schemes may involve contact by telephone, social media, e-mail or even face to face.
You might see emails attempting to steer you to bogus websites that mimic the names or websites of legitimate charities or infer that they are associated with legitimate charities. They are attempting to persuade people to send money or provide personal financial information so that identities or other personal assets can be stolen.
The IRS has a tool to check charities to make sure they are valid. That can be found at https://apps.irs.gov/app/eos/. Charities listed on this website are registered with the IRS and donations to them are tax-deductible. Note that many scammers have similar sounding names to legitimate charities.
Of course, you should never give out personal financial information to anyone soliciting a contribution. That should go without saying but there are still thousands of people every day that are fooled by these attempts.
If you suspect an attempt at fraud via email or the internet, you can report it to the IRS by visiting https://www.irs.gov/privacy-disclosure/report-phishing. They have a number of articles posted on their website regarding fraud and phishing attempts and many other scams that are common.
We here at AFS do not want to discourage you from donating whatever you can but we do want to help and make sure your donations go where intended and you are not hurt in the process. If you have a question regarding this subject matter, don’t be afraid to give us a call.