Disaster Relief Scams

Continuing our unfortunate series on scams to be aware of….disaster relief scams.  More common during this time of year when hurricanes and other natural disasters are more prevalent, educating yourself is the best step to prevention.  The IRS warns taxpayers to look out for disaster scams which could originate through email, phone call, social media, or even in person.

As a part of educating yourself to prevent fraud, it is essential to know the correct contact numbers, websites, and organizations.  If you need disaster assistance the number for help is 866-562-5227.  For anyone who would like to make a donation to help, an accurate list of organizations eligible to receive tax-deductible charitable contributions is on the IRS website.  For more information from the IRS on disaster scams, you can visit their link here.  Information is also available on how to report suspicious activity.  The FEMA website contains additional information on correct disaster phone numbers and what to do if you suspect fraud.

Another step to prevention is to always pay with a check or credit card so that you have a record of your transaction.  We discussed other scams that target taxpayers at this time of year in Tax Scams.  The advice for disaster relief scams is very similar in both cases….NEVER give out personal information to any organization you can’t verify.  This includes account numbers, social security numbers, pins or passwords.

It is certainly upsetting that people will use disaster as a means to scam taxpayers.  Stay cautious with your personal information at all times and do your research before making donations.  There are definitely plenty of worthwhile organizations available to donate to and help make a difference!