Don't fall for fake charity scams
After disaster strikes, people often want to help those in need. Unfortunately, this is also when fake charities pop up. The IRS recently reported an uptick in emerging charity scams since hurricanes Harvey, Irma and others made landfall.
Scammers commonly take advantage of donators with emails that steer people to fake websites asking for donations and other financial information. These fraudulent websites usually claim to be affiliated with authentic organizations. They try to get you to make donations or disclose your personal information.
If you're planning on donating to a charity, follow these rules:
- Donate to well-known charities. And make sure to double-check their backgrounds. Sometimes fake charities will have names that are similar to legitimate organizations.
- Protect your financial info. It's highly unlikely a real charity will ask for your Social Security number or bank account numbers. This should be a major red flag.
- Keep your cash. Instead, use a check or a credit card for donations. Using these forms of payment are more secure, plus they provide documentation.
The IRS website has a list of exempt organizations you can use to find qualified charities.