The IRS has issued a warning to consumers about fraudulent charity scams. Fraudulent scams capitalize on the goodwill of the public with the intent to steal money or identities.
The IRS warns that scams of this nature are most rampant following major disasters, like recent devastating tornados or typhoons. Disasters are the most popular times for this type of fraud because of the surge of good will surrounding a catastrophic event, and suspicious circumstances are more likely to be overlooked because of the immediacy of need.
The scammers pose as a legitimate charity using several different methods. They may claim to be an employee or volunteer of a legitimate charity. They may use company names that sound similar to real charities. They may use email that link respondents to fraudulent websites. Or, they may use phone calls or emails to solicit donations requiring personal or financial information in attempt to commit identity theft.
You can protect yourself in several ways:
Verify that the charity is legitimate.
The IRS and FEMA both offer online tools to search for qualified tax-deductible organizations.
Don’t share your personal financial information.
Never share your Social Security Number, credit card numbers, your credit union account number or your passwords with anyone. Often these donation attempts are a way to access much more than your intended donation amount.
Don’t send cash.
Cash isn’t a traceable way to record donations for tax purposes, but it’s also not very secure. Use a check or other payment method to properly document your transaction.
If you think you may be a victim of charity-related fraud, report the incident to the IRS using the Reporting Phishing link.
If you suspect that your account has been compromised, immediately call a member service representative at (888) 858-6878. After hours, for debit or credit card fraud, please call (800) 543-5073 to block your card.
We can cancel compromised cards, change your account number or add a password to your account for future transactions if it becomes necessary.
by Michelle, AVP, Operations