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IRS Warns Fake Charities Proliferate in Wake of Major Disasters

The IRS has once again warned taxpayers to be "wary" of criminals who solicit donations while posing as legitimate charities. (IR 2023-196)

"We all want to help innocent victims and their families," said IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel. "Knowing we're trying to aid those who are suffering, criminals crawl out of the woodwork to prey on those most vulnerable — people who simply want to help." The agency urged those wishing to make donations to use its Tax-Exempt Organization Search (TEOS) tool on IRS.gov. Users of the tool can:

  • Verify the legitimacy of a charity.

  • Check its eligibility to receive tax-deductible charitable contributions.

  • Search for information about an organization's tax-exempt status and filings.

Criminals typically seek money but also attempt to acquire personal information that can be used in identity theft activities, the IRS noted. "Fake charity promoters may use emails, fake websites, or alter or 'spoof' their caller ID to make it look like a real charity is calling to solicit donations," it added.

The agency offered four tips to protect against fake charity scams:

  • Verify first.

  • Don't give in to pressure.

  • Don't give more than needed.

  • Be wary about how a donation is requested.


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