hurricane natural disaster scams

The Internal Revenue Service issued a reminder to taxpayers that criminals and scammers “often try to take advantage of the generosity of taxpayers who want to help victims of major disasters.”

The IRS issued the warning because hurricane season begins in June and lasts through November.

“Taxpayers need to be vigilant of scams that will undoubtedly pop up when and if a hurricane occurs during that time,” an IRS news release said.

Fraudulent schemes normally start with unsolicited contact by telephone, social media, email or in person, according to the release, which exposed the following tactics:

  • Some impersonate charities to get money or private information from well-intentioned taxpayers.
  • Bogus websites use names similar to legitimate charities to trick people to send money or provide personal financial information.
  • Some scammers claim to be working for or on behalf of the IRS to help victims file casualty loss claims and get tax refunds.
  • Some criminals operate bogus charities and solicit money or financial information by telephone or email.

Help for disaster victims

Disaster victims can call the IRS toll-free disaster assistance telephone number (866-562-5227). Phone assistors will answer questions about tax relief or disaster-related tax issues. Details on available relief can be found on the IRS’s disaster relief page.

Donate to real charities

To help taxpayers donate to legitimate charities, the IRS website, IRS.gov, has a search feature, Tax Exempt Organization Search, that helps users find or verify qualified charities. Donations to these charities may be tax-deductible.

  • Contribute by check or credit card, never give or send cash, to have a record of the tax-deductible donation.
  • 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.
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Taxpayers suspecting fraud by email should visit 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.”