Tax Defense Network wants taxpayers to be aware that fraudulent charities often follow major disasters. In the wake of the destructive storms in the Midwest, as well as the typhoon in the Philippines, the IRS has issued a warning to taxpayers about bogus charity scams.

“You get a lot of fake charities popping up after disasters,” Lori Hall, Debt Analyst at Tax Defense Network, explains. “It is a horrible way unscrupulous people try to make quick money or steal information in order to commit identity theft. They pretend to be a charity to take advantage of people’s eagerness to help others in need.”

Fake charities will use various means to make themselves seem legitimate. Often, scam artists seek to deceive people by claiming to be with real charities or by using names similar to real charities. Even more elaborate, some will use email to direct people to websites that look like real charity sites.

Many times, fake charity scammers will contact people over the phone or email to persuade them to immediately donate money or give their personal or financial information.

To avoid falling victim to a fake charity scam, or any scam designed to steal your money or identity, it is crucial to protect your private information.

“I cannot stress this enough: do not give your personal information to anyone you are not 110% certain you can trust. Always think twice before giving out your SSN [Social Security Number] or financial information,” says Lori. “Identity theft is rampant these days. You really cannot be too careful with your personal information.”

Another important step is to research a charity before you decide to donate. The FEMA website provides access to a list of charities dedicated to disaster relief and general aid-giving charities. The IRS has its own tool, the Exempt Organization Select Check Tool, which allows people to check a charity’s status, as well as perform a search for charities that are eligible to receive tax-deductible contributions.

Tax Defense Network advises taxpayers to watch out for these scam charities and to avoid putting money or personal information in the wrong hands. A little research will go a long way to avoid falling prey to these scams.

Tax Defense Network is a national tax debt resolution company that assists individuals and small businesses with their tax problems. Tax Defense Network’s team of licensed tax professionals, enrolled agents, and CPAs is A+ rated by the Better Business Bureau.