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Tax Talk

December 2015


The Internal Revenue Service recently issued a consumer alert reporting the emergence of possible fake charity scams due to recent severe flooding in South Carolina and neighboring states.

Unfortunately, following any type of major disaster, it is common for scam artists to impersonate charities to obtain money or private information from well-intentioned taxpayers. Such fraudulent schemes can involve contact by telephone, social media, or in-person solicitations.

Scammers may also use emails that contain links to bogus websites to solicit funds for disaster victims. Whether you receive an email link or visit these websites directly, the pages frequently mimic the websites of, or use names similar to legitimate charities. Scammers often claim to be affiliated with legitimate charities in an attempt to get you to send money or provide personal financial information.

If you wish to make a charitable contribution for disaster relief, use caution to avoid scam artists by following these tips:
  • Donate to recognized disaster relief charities.
  • Be wary of charities with names and/or websites that are similar to familiar or nationally known organizations. If you are considering making a contribution to a charity and are unsure of its legitimacy, you can do one of the following:
    • Go to www.irs.gov and key “Exempt Organizations Select Check” in the search engine. On this page you can search for legitimate, qualified charities.
    • Search for legitimate charities at www.fema.gov, the website for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
  • Don't 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 from you. Scam artists may use this information to steal your identity and money.
  • Don't give or send cash. For security and tax record purposes, contribute by check or credit card or another way that provides documentation of the gift.
Taxpayers suspecting disaster-related frauds by email should visit www.irs.gov and search for information using the keywords "Report Phishing." More information on tax scams can be found on the IRS site using the search words "scams and schemes". Taxpayers suspecting disaster-related frauds by email should visit www.irs.gov and search for information using the keywords "Report Phishing". More information on tax scams can be found on the IRS site using the search words "scams and schemes."

If you ever need a second opinion about whether a donation opportunity is legitimate, the Credit Union is happy to help! Feel free to discuss the matter with employees at your local branch prior to making the donation.

Source: IR-2015-114

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