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PROTECT YOURSELF: IDENTIFYING FAKE CHARITIES EXPLOITING TAXPAYER GENEROSITY

In the latest installment of the “Dirty Dozen” tax scams for 2024, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is sounding the alarm on fake charities posing as legitimate organizations to deceive well-meaning taxpayers. Especially during times of natural disasters or tragic events, individuals are inclined to offer financial support to those affected. However, scammers exploit this goodwill by creating fake charities to solicit donations and collect sensitive personal and financial information for fraudulent purposes.

The Threat Of Fake Charities

According to IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel, these scammers frequently capitalize on major disasters to prey on compassionate taxpayers, using the situation as a cover to swindle money and private data. With fake charities marking day six of the Dirty Dozen, the IRS emphasizes the importance of caution and due diligence when considering charitable contributions. Established in 2002, the Dirty Dozen campaign aims to raise awareness about common tax scams and protect taxpayers from falling victim to fraudulent schemes, including fake charities.

IRS EFFORTS TO COMBAT FRAUD

As part of the Security Summit, the IRS collaborates with state tax agencies and the tax industry to implement internal security measures and educate taxpayers about scams throughout the year. Through initiatives like the Dirty Dozen and the Security Summit program, the IRS aims to safeguard taxpayers, businesses, and the tax system from cybercriminals and deceptive activities, including those perpetrated by fake charities.

Recognizing the Signs of Fake Charities

During times of disasters, fake charities proliferate, preying on people’s generosity to solicit funds and personal information for nefarious purposes, such as identity theft. To avoid falling victim to these scams, taxpayers are advised to exercise caution and follow these guidelines:

Don’t Succumb to Pressure
Genuine charities appreciate donations but never pressure individuals into giving immediately. Before making a contribution, take the time to research and verify the organization’s legitimacy. Reach out to trusted sources for recommendations or check online reviews and ratings.

Be Cautious with Payment Methods
Avoid charities that request payment via gift cards or wire transfers, as scammers commonly use these tactics. After confirming the charity’s authenticity, use secure methods like credit cards or checks. When making online donations, ensure that the website is secure, starts with “https://,” and has a padlock symbol indicating a secure connection.

Verify the Charity’s Legitimacy
Ask for the charity’s name, website, and mailing address from the fundraiser, and independently verify this information using the IRS Tax-Exempt Organization Search (TEOS) tool available on IRS.gov. Additionally, look for accreditation from reputable organizations like the Better Business Bureau or Charity Navigator.

Guard Personal Information
Do not share sensitive data like Social Security numbers or credit card details with unknown entities. Only disclose such information after confirming the charity’s legitimacy. Be cautious of unsolicited emails or phone calls requesting personal or financial information, as these could be phishing attempts by scammers.

By staying vigilant and following these precautions, taxpayers can protect themselves from falling victim to fake charities and ensure their donations reach deserving causes. Together, we can combat fraudulent schemes and safeguard the integrity of charitable giving. Remember, research and caution can go a long way in positively impacting and supporting legitimate charitable organizations. If you suspect fraudulent activity or encounter suspicious charities, report it to the IRS or your state’s attorney general’s office to help prevent others from becoming victims. Let’s work together to ensure that generosity continues to make a meaningful difference in the lives of those in need.

READ THE IRS REPORT HERE: irs.gov

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