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Lynne Huismann Amy Ciminello Cody Reinsel
September 8, 2017 Article 1 min read
In the wake of Hurricane Harvey and Irma’s devastation, beware of criminals who use disasters for their own financial gain, and learn how to avoid becoming a victim of fraud.

Wheat field in sunset

In the wake of Hurricane Harvey and Irma’s devastation, support has swelled among organizations all over the United States. Unfortunately, the number of scammers is also swelling, prompting the IRS to release a warning for donors: Be mindful of the groups to which you donate and make sure they’re legitimate charitable organizations.

It’s easy to be duped. Criminals often use entity names that are similar to those of legitimate charitable organizations and website designs that have a very similar look and feel to persuade donors to hand over personal information and funds.

The scams aren’t only cropping up through emails and on social media — you may also receive phone solicitations or even in-person visits.

When contributing to organizations in support of disaster relief, keep the following tips in mind:

  • Donate only to legitimate charities.
  • Never share personal financial information or passwords.
  • Always use a check or credit card to make donations, not cash.

To take a deduction on your personal income tax return, keep records of your contribution, obtain a receipt from the charity — this is required for payments over $250 — and make sure the recipient is a charitable organization that’s eligible to receive deductible charitable contributions. You can use the Exempt Organization Select Check tool on the IRS website to check an organization’s legitimacy and status.