With the bombs at the Boston marathon and the fertilizer plant explosion in Texas, many Americans are asking what they can do to help. It’s this resilience of the American spirit that encourages people to donate to charities to help out even if they’re across the country. However, the IRS has issued a new warning that many charity scams are popping up throughout the nation. These scams are trying to take advantage of these tragedies for financial gain, leaving donors at risk of credit damage and unauthorized debt.
Protect Your Credit While Donating
The IRS notes that these scam artists are using a variety of tactics to get financial information. This could cause immeasurable damage to your credit report as these scammers are participating in fraud and identity theft. To protect yourself from charity scams, it’s important to keep these practices in mind:
· Only donate to authorized charities. Whether you’re donating to Boston or Texas, only donate to charities you know that you can trust. Aside from big names like the Red Cross, use the Exempt Organizations Select Tool on the IRS website to find charities that are legitimate.
· Look out for similar names. One of the tactics scammers use is to make their charity’s name similar to a larger organization. Because the name sounds and looks familiar, people are more likely to donate. But in reality they’re giving away money or personal information that could harm their credit.
·Don’t give out personal information. The IRS warns against using credit cards or checks to donate to charities you are unsure about. These methods give scam artists your personal information. Protect your credit by protecting your personal info.
· Avoid sending cash. On the other hand, you don’t want to send cash either. For both security and tax record purposes, you want to keep a paper trail of any donations. Thus, to contribute by check or credit card, you must verify that the charity is legitimate.
· Report potential fraud. Finally, if you have suspicions about a charity, it’s important to report it. You’re protecting unsuspecting victims by doing so. The IRS also provides more information about tax scams and schemes.