Beware Charity Scams after Boston, Texas Tragedies

Unfortunately, following tragedies like the Boston Marathon bombs and the explosion at the Texas fertilizer plant, there are people out there looking to prey on those who would donate money to help the victims. Don't fall victim to charity scams.

Unfortunately, following tragedies like the Boston Marathon bombs and the explosion at the Texas fertilizer plant, there are people out there looking to prey on those who would donate money to help the victims.

The same thing happened after the Newtown, Conn., shooting, after the Haiti earthquake and even after 9/11. Following major disasters and tragedies scammers attempt to steal money from well-intentioned individuals by impersonating charities. Not only could you lose money, but sometimes these scam artists attempt to get private information.

According to the IRS, fraudulent websites often mimic the sites of legitimates charities or use similar names. Unfortunately, there are a wide variety of tactics that scammers use: phone calls, social media, email and even in-person solicitations.

If you wish to donate to the victims of recent tragedies, here are some tips provided by the IRS.

1. Donate to qualified charities

The IRS has a tool on its website to help find qualified charities. However, it’s good to donate to these charities anyway as only donations to qualified charities are tax deductible. FEMA also has a list of legitimate charities on its site.

2. Be wary of charities with similar names

In an attempt to trick unwitting donors, scammers will create charities that use names that are similar to a nationally known organization. The websites will usual look like the legitimate charity’s so that people will donate without worry.

3. Don’t give out personal financial information

You should not give information like your Social Security number, your credit card or bank account number or any passwords to solicitors.

4. Don’t give or send cash

For security purposes donating by some way that provides documentation (check or credit card) is the best way to contribute. Furthermore, donating money in this way also provides documentation for tax record purposes.

Lastly, if you suspect charity-related fraud, please report it so other unsuspecting individuals don’t fall victim.