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IRS Warns Consumers of Possible Scams Relating to Hurricane Sandy Relief

The Internal Revenue Service today issued a consumer alert about possible scams taking place in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.

The Internal Revenue Service today issued a consumer alert about possible scams taking place in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.

 Following major disasters, it’s common for scam artists to impersonate charities to get money or private information from well-intentioned taxpayers. Such fraudulent schemes may involve contact by telephone, social media, email or in-person solicitations.

 The IRS cautions both hurricane victims and people wishing to make disaster-related charitable donations to avoid scam artists by following these tips: 

  • To help disaster victims, donate to recognized charities. 
  • Be wary of charities with names that are similar to familiar or nationally known organizations. Some phony charities use names or websites that sound or look like those of respected, legitimate organizations. The IRS website at IRS.gov has a search feature, Exempt Organizations Select Check, which allows people to find legitimate, qualified charities to which donations may be tax-deductible. Legitimate charities may also be found on the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Web site at fema.gov.
  • Don’t give out personal financial information — such as Social Security numbers or credit card and bank account numbers and passwords — to anyone who solicits a contribution from you. Scam artists may 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 gift.
  • Call the IRS toll-free disaster assistance telephone number, 1-866-562-5227, if you are a hurricane victim with specific questions about tax relief or disaster related tax issues. 

 

Scam artists can use a variety of tactics. Some scammers operating bogus charities may contact people by telephone to solicit money or financial information. They may even directly contact disaster victims and claim to be working for or on behalf of the IRS to help the victims file casualty loss claims and get tax refunds. They may attempt to get personal financial information or Social Security numbers that can be used to steal the victims’ identities or financial resources.

Bogus websites may solicit funds for disaster victims. Such fraudulent sites frequently mimic the sites of, or use names similar to, legitimate charities, or claim to be affiliated with legitimate charities, in order to persuade members of the public to send money or provide personal financial information that can be used to steal identities or financial resources.   Additionally, scammers often send e-mail that steers the recipient to bogus websites that sound as though they are affiliated with legitimate charitable causes.

 Taxpayers suspecting disaster-related frauds should IRS.gov and search for the keywords  “Report Phishing.”

 More information about tax scams and schemes may be found at IRS.gov using the keywords “scams and schemes."

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cooper vorel November 12, 2012 at 07:29 PM
Considering the destruction that dealt from Superstorm Sandy it is a shame that people would attempt to take advantage of people who hurting. I also think it is up to FEMA to provide support and make sure the people affected are safe and provided for.
Simona V November 13, 2012 at 12:29 AM
It is horrible to hear that there are people in the world that take disasters like these and use it to their own benefit. With the many sites, emails, and phonecalls they provide it is hard to determine which is which and hopefully people will be able to distinguish what organization is the correct one.
Blake D November 13, 2012 at 02:59 AM
After all that has happened to some people throughout the past two weeks, it is horrible to see that there are people trying to take advantage of the situation. Not only are these people stealing money, but they are keeping a plethora of people from getting the aid and assistance that they need, that would be bought with the donated money.
NYB November 13, 2012 at 03:45 AM
FEMA is the arm of big government, it's great that we have them...sometimes...but they should remain as they were initially organized, an organization that writes the checks and provides logistical and command support to the STATE organizations. Beyond that, people should stop relying on the government to take care of them. Unless you don't have an inhabitable home anymore, you should have food, water and gasoline to keep you going for at least two weeks.
Bob Rabey November 13, 2012 at 07:53 AM
The REAL scam is yet to be seen. Your own insurance company and FEMA's reimbursement. I just watched a news report of a elderly woman from Brooklyn, whos home was severly damaged. Here homeowners policy is giving her $6000.00 and FEMA offered her $1,500.00 for a total of $7500.00! Her damages are at least 5 times that! What is she supposed to do? Keep a close eye on this side of the story. More heartbreak ahead.
fay November 16, 2012 at 04:48 PM
Maybe President Obama should step in and take care of all the people he promised to take care of. The proof is in the pudding.
Tom Dewick November 16, 2012 at 04:53 PM
That dog turd don't fly.
John Gruber November 16, 2012 at 05:07 PM
but I thought government assistance was a bad thing...
K. November 16, 2012 at 05:26 PM
The irony of an IRS agent warning us of scammers is not lost on me.
fay November 16, 2012 at 05:28 PM
Yes, I suppose the government has enough on their shoulders, I shouldn't expect them to do anything about this small community.
fay November 16, 2012 at 05:29 PM
LOL great comment Kevin
Taylor D November 16, 2012 at 07:07 PM
Its a shame that people use these storms as an advantage to them. People got killed and their things got ruined. It was truly devastating.
Kevin November 16, 2012 at 10:46 PM
Fay, dont count on Obama for anything. He got back in office unfortunately, took his tour of New Jersey and parts of New York, L.I. Etc, and that's going to be the end of it. People hit by Katrina are still recovering down South, where is the rebuiding that Obama promised them. Do not trust Goverment or any politician for that matter. There all phonies!!!!!!!!!
Rob Onion November 17, 2012 at 12:43 AM
Kevin... are you really blaming the President for the lack of leadership after Katrina?!! HA! You are nuts. What we saw in NJ after Sandy was true leadership by the President .. why else would that cow Christie embrace him so? Wake up. Reading posts from you right-wing nuts is amusing... especially after OUR President SMASHED that douche salesman Romney. 330+ electoral & more than 3.5 million votes! Not even close. Love it
John Gruber November 17, 2012 at 02:04 AM
election aside, Kevin, I would think Christie's praise of Obama for his handling of it says all you need to know. As for Katrina, I'm not sure where you're pulling that from
Anna December 04, 2012 at 04:02 PM
Bingo! Thought the same thing.

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