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ASK THE EDD ATTORNEY – HURRICANE HARVEY - AVOIDING FAKE CHARITY SCAMS

By Robert S. Schriebman

2017

Introduction

Our collective hearts go out to the victims of Hurricane Harvey. Our fellow Americans are suffering and we want to do our part to relieve that suffering. We are deluged (no pun intended) by charities asking for donations to relieve the suffering and to feed and house the homeless. It is our duty to do our part. Having said this, we must be careful to watch where our money goes. The crooks are out there and they are smart and sophisticated.

On August 30, 2017, the IRS issued Press Release IR-2017-137 "Beware of Fake Charity Scams Relating to Hurricane Harvey." There are fake charity scams popping up due to Hurricane Harvey. We can be sure that every time there is a state or national emergency the crooks are going to create clever fake charities and will use not only your money but your identity to steal from you.

The IRS warns that criminals are sending fake email messages asking the public to contribute money to bogus websites that appear to be affiliated with legitimate recognized and long-standing public charities. The phony websites mimic the legitimate charity's website and use names similar, but not identical to legitimate charities. These phony websites ask for personal information such as your social security number as well as encouraging you to donate using your credit card. Stolen credit card donations are the least of the danger. The real danger lurks in stealing of personal private information for identity theft purposes.

IRS Offers Some Good Advice

IR-2017-137 offers some good advice to protect you against cyber crooks. Here are a few tips from the IRS:

  • Donate to a recognized charity. If you have never heard of the charity soliciting you, you should check it out and assume that it is bogus until proven otherwise.
  • Checking out the charity. Phony charities use names and design websites that appear to be very close to long-standing recognized charities. They are smart and very technically savvy. Go to IRS website, IRS.gov, and look under "Exempt Organizations Select Check" to find qualified charities. You might also go on Google and review the charity under "Charity Watch" and similar websites.
  • Don't give out personal financial information. Do not give out your Social Security number or credit card and back account numbers. Never give out your passwords. The scam artists will use this information for identity theft.
  • Never send or give cash. Remember, your donation may be tax deductible and you need proof to show the charitable donee and the amount given.

If you suspect fraud, visit IRS.gov and search for the key words, "Report Phishing." The IRS cannot catch these crooks without your help.

Let The Donor Beware

Charitable giving is a wonderful thing. Major religions either encourage and even mandate charitable giving. I recommend going one step further. Before you write that check, check out how much of your donated dollar is actually going for the cause or is it wasted or going into executive salaries, advertising, etc. Some charities only give as little as 2% on the dollar for the emergency on hand. That means 98 cents out of every dollar goes into other pockets and never makes it to the cause you intended to relieve. There are websites out there that will inform you how much real good your dollar is doing.

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Robert Schriebman has a successful practice in the Rolling Hills Estates area of Los Angeles County serving clients throughout California and the United States. He has successfully dedicated more than 40 years to helping individual taxpayers, business owners, CPAs, Enrolled Agents, and tax attorneys navigate the complicated tax systems of the federal and state governments.

Robert Schriebman has written the only 2 books ever published dealing with how California Employment Development Department (EDD) operates. See "California Tax Collection Practice and Procedures" and "California Taxation Practice and Procedure," both published by Commerce Clearing House.

Robert Schriebman has written over 20 books including the major manual used nationally by practitioners and the IRS, "IRS Tax Collection Procedures – A Manual for Practitioners" published by Commerce Clearing House.

Robert Schriebman has written over 20 books including the major manual used nationally by practitioners and the IRS, "IRS Tax Collection Procedures – A Manual for Practitioners" published by Commerce Clearing House in addition to the only 2 books ever published dealing with how California Employment Development Department (EDD) operates. See "California Tax Collection Practice and Procedures" and "California Taxation Practice and Procedure," both published by Commerce Clearing House.

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