How To Avoid Scam Artist When Donating To Tsunami Relief
Millions of people have shown their true character by making
cash donations to charitable groups providing relief to those
devastated by the Tsunami. While your actions are a shining
example of the best traits of people, a few unsavory groups are
trying to make a profit off of the tragedy.
You can avoid these scam artists by taking a few simple steps.
Charitable organizations rely on tax- deductible contributions
as their primary funding source. Before an organization can
offer the benefit of a tax deduction for donations, it must be
classified as such by the Internal Revenue Service. The process
is arduous and effectively acts as an informal investigation of
the legitimacy of the charitable organization in question.
Fortunately, the IRS makes this information available to the
You can check the legitimacy of a charitable organization by
either contacting the IRS or accessing the agency list of
charitable organizations on the Internet as follows:
IRS Customer Service: 1-800-829-1040
The above link to the IRS takes you to a page where you can
conduct a publication 78 search. Publication 78 is a list of all
charitable organizations that have qualified for tax-exempt
status with the IRS. Scam artist and unsavory characters are not
going to be listed with the IRS. If the organization you are
considering does not appear in Publication 78, you may wish to
consider another organization that is on the list.
You should be cautious if you receive an e-mail requesting money
for the relief effort. The e-mail may not be from a legitimate
organization. Fraudulent e-mail campaigns are at an unbelievable
level. If you are determined to make a contribution because of
an e-mail you received, make sure that you check out the
organization with the IRS as indicated above.
Unfortunately, there is a second problem with responding to an
e-mail solicitation for monetary donations. Assume that you
regularly make donations to a large charity organization and you
receive a request for a donation from that organization to help
with the tragedy in Asia. You can safely click the link in the
email and make a donation, correct? Maybe not. There is still a
risk that the email is a scam. Many online businesses have
ongoing problems with scam artists copying their sites, logos,
headings, etc., and sending e-mail solicitations to scam
individuals. There is no reason to believe that charitable
organizations would be any less of a target, so be careful.
A third and final problem exists with email solicitations for
donations. Most people incorrectly assume that when they see a
familiar domain name in the body of an email, it means the email
is legitimate. Domain names can easily be faked through a domain
name masking program. It gets a bit technical, but just keep in
mind that domain name in the body of an email means little.
If you still compelled to respond to an email solicitation with
a donation, you should use a search engine to search for the
organization listed in the email. Once you click on to the site,
you can make your donation in confidence.
You donations make a world of difference for so many people in
need. By following the above recommendations, you can make sure
that your donation is made to a legitimate charitable