Hurricane season runs June 1 to November 30. With hurricane season well underway, taxpayers should watch out for disaster-related scams carried out by criminals and scammers who often try to take advantage of the generosity of taxpayers wanting to help victims of major disasters.
Fraudulent schemes normally start with unsolicited contact by telephone, social media, e-mail or in-person using a variety of tactics such as the following:
- Impersonating charities to get money or private information from well-intentioned taxpayers.
- Setting up bogus websites use names similar to legitimate charities to trick people to send money or provide personal financial information.
- Claiming to be working for or on behalf of the IRS to help victims file casualty loss claims and get tax refunds.
- Operating bogus charities and solicit money or financial information by telephone or email.
To find out whether a charity is legitimate use the search feature, “Tax Exempt Organization Search,” on the IRS website. Donations to these charities may be tax-deductible. Also, be sure to:
- Contribute by check or credit card, never give or send cash, to have a record of the tax-deductible donation.
- Not give out personal financial information such as Social Security numbers or credit card and bank account numbers and passwords to anyone who solicits a contribution.
Taxpayers suspecting fraud by email should visit IRS.gov and search for the keywords “Report Phishing.” Disaster victims can call the IRS toll-free disaster assistance telephone number (866-562-5227) and speak to someone who will answer questions about tax relief or disaster-related tax issues.
More information about tax scams and schemes may be found at IRS.gov using the keywords “scams and schemes.” If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to call our office as well.