Criminals and scammers often try to take advantage of the generous donors who want to help disaster victims. These scams often pop up after a hurricane, wildfire, or other disaster. This year, with the COVID-19 pandemic, everyone should be vigilant.
So, how do these scams start?
Disaster scams normally start with unsolicited contact. The scammer contacts their possible victim by telephone, social media, email, or in-person. Scammers also use a variety of tactics to lure information out of people.
Tips to help recognize a scam and avoid becoming a victim:
- Some thieves pretend they are from a charity. They do this to get money or private information from those with good intentions.
- Bogus websites use names that are similar to legitimate charities. This is done to trick people to send money or provide personal financial information.
- Scammers even claim to be working for – or on behalf of – the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Thieves say they can help victims file casualty loss claims and get tax refunds.
- You should always contribute by check or credit card to have a record of the tax-deductible donation.
- You should not give out personal financial information to anyone who solicits a contribution. This includes things like Social Security Numbers or credit card and bank account numbers and passwords.
Always consult a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) with any questions about disaster donations and potential scams. Submitted by: Canita Gunter Peterson, CPA, Thomas Howell Ferguson P.A. CPAs, (850) 688-8100.