At the beginning of the year, the IRS released its annual list of “Dirty Dozen” tax scams. The list covers a variety of scams, ranging from schemes perpetrated by taxpayers themselves (such as hiding income offshore or implementing abusive tax structures) to scams that are committed against taxpayers without their knowledge (such as phishing or stealing individuals’ identities to claim their tax refunds). While the IRS noted that there is an increase of these scams during tax season, taxpayers must be vigilant throughout the year, especially when it comes to fake charity schemes.
Impersonating charitable organizations has been around for quite some time and often occurs after major natural disasters. Scam artists will pose as legitimate charities to get money or private information from taxpayers by using various methods. One approach is to contact individuals via phone or email asking for donations or personal financial information. Another way is to create websites for fake charities where individuals can “donate.” Not only do these people lose their money, but they are also making themselves vulnerable to further theft by giving up their personal financial information. Other scam artists will contact victims of natural disasters directly and claim to help them file casualty loss claims and get tax refunds.
There are several things people can do to protect themselves against these types of scams.