Sadly, as people's hearts are heavy with grief in the days following the Boston Marathon bombing and the Texas fertilizer plant explosion and fire, their goodwill and compassion is being abused by scammers. Gray, Gray & Gray shares this warning with you, our valued clients, staff and friends, in hopes of avoiding further victimization.
We appreciate and commend all who have banded together to support others during these terrible tragedies, and urge you to continue doing so with a few precautionary measures. Please bear in mind that in this digital age, perpetrators utilize the powers of social media and email, in addition to phone and in-person solicitations of funds and financial information.
Don't let a few bad apples spoil the bunch...
Before you make a contribution or provide your financial information, research the charity to find out if it is legitimate. Some scam artists may try to obtain personal information via the telephone; others will direct you to a fake website to collect your data; or claim an affiliation with a reputable charity and ask that you mail in your donation. Your due diligence can help ensure your donation gets to its intended recipient or organization, rather than into the hands of scammers.
The IRS is also urging people and organizations to take precaution. They recently offered the following tips:
- Donate to qualified charities. Use the Exempt Organizations Select Check tool at IRS.gov to find qualified charities. Only donations to qualified charitable organizations are tax-deductible. You can also 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. They may use names or websites that sound or look like those of legitimate organizations.
- Don't 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. Scam artists use this information to steal your identity and money.
- Don't give or send cash. For security and tax record purposes, contribute by check or credit card or another way that provides documentation of the donation.
- Report suspected fraud. Taxpayers suspecting tax or charity-related fraud should visit IRS.gov and perform a search using the keywords "Report Phishing."