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Beware of phony pleas to help victims in Boston and Texas

It’s sad but true. Following major disasters and tragedies, scam artists impersonate charities to steal money or get private information from well-intentioned taxpayers. Fraudulent schemes involve solicitations by phone, social media, email or in-person.

Scam artists use a variety of tactics. Some operate bogus charities that contact people by telephone to solicit money or financial information. Others use emails to steer people to bogus websites to solicit funds, allegedly for the benefit of tragedy victims.

The IRS offers the following tips to help taxpayers who wish to donate to victims of the recent tragedies at the Boston Marathon and a Texas fertilizer plant:

• Donate to qualified charities. Use the “Exempt Organizations Select Check” tool at IRS.gov to find qualified charities. Find legitimate charities on the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Web site at fema.gov.

• Be wary of charities with similar names. Some phony charities use names that are similar to familiar or nationally known organizations.

• Do not give out personal financial information.  Do not give your Social Security number, credit card and bank account numbers and passwords to anyone who solicits a contribution from you.

• Do not give or send cash. For security and tax record purposes, contribute by check or credit card to provide documentation.

• Report suspected fraud.  Taxpayers suspecting tax or charity-related fraud should visit IRS.gov and perform a search using the keywords “Report Phishing.”

More information about tax scams and schemes is available at IRS.gov using the keywords “scams and schemes.”

 

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