Watch Out for Fake Charities this Holiday Season!

Today is “Giving Tuesday,” which marks a special day as the holidays approach and people give to their favorite causes through charitable organizations. Scammers can take advantage of this by setting up fake charities to trick unsuspecting donors into providing not only money, but also their sensitive information.

The Security Summit – a coalition of state tax agencies, the nation’s tax community and the IRS – urged people to make sure they are giving to a legitimate charity. This can help protect taxpayer’s personal and financial data and help prevent tax-related identity theft.

Donors should always check to make sure they are giving to a legitimate charity and can easily do so by using a special IRS tool: the Tax Exempt Organization Search Tool.

Scams requesting donations for disaster relief efforts are especially common over the phone. Always check out a charity before you donate, and do not feel pressured to give immediately.

Tips to avoid fake charity scams:

  • Individuals should never let any caller pressure them. A legitimate charity will be happy to get a donation at any time, so there’s no rush. Donors are encouraged to take time to do their own research.
  • Confirm the charity is real. Potential donors should ask the fundraiser for the charity’s exact name, website and mailing address so they can confirm it later. Some dishonest telemarketers use names that sound like well-known charities to confuse people.
  • Be careful about how a donation is made. Don’t work with charities that ask for donations by giving numbers from a gift card or by wiring money. That’s a scam. It’s safest to pay by credit card or check — and only after researching the charity.