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How to Avoid Boston Charity Scams

How to Help the People in Boston Without Getting Scammed

Be careful where your money goes. Business Insider shares how you can avoid getting scammed when trying to make financial donations for Boston.

There has been a outpouring of goodwill and charitable actions toward the people of Boston and those affected by last week's heinous terrorist attack. 

Unfortunately, not all good gestures make their way into the right hands. The IRS is already warning consumers against a slew of possible charity scams stemming from the Boston tragedy and, more recently, the devastating explosion at a West, TX, fertilizer plant. 

Related: The Massive Tax Break Behind Estée Lauder Heir's $1 Billion Art Donation

Scammers are no longer solely targeting victims by email or door-to-door visits. Social media is increasingly becoming one of the simplest ways to proliferate scams, and in the rush to Retweet or "Like" a page in support of a joint cause, consumers could unwittingly be putting their social networks in danger of fraud.

Here are the guidelines the IRS has issued to keep fraudsters at bay:

  • Donate to qualified charities. Use the Exempt Organizations Select Check tool at IRS.gov to find qualified charities. Only donations to qualified charitable organizations are tax-deductible. You can also find legitimate charities on the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) website at FEMA.gov.
  • Be wary of charities with similar names.  Some phony charities use names that are similar to familiar or nationally known organizations. They may use names or websites that sound or look like those of legitimate organizations.
  • Don't give out personal financial information. Do not give your Social Security number, credit card and bank account numbers, or passwords to anyone who solicits a contribution from you. Scam artists 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 donation.
  • Report suspected fraud. Taxpayers suspecting tax- or charity-related fraud should visit IRS.gov and perform a search using the keywords "Report Phishing."

Check out these other smart stories from Business Insider:

Couple Paid Off $82,000 of Credit Debt in Four Years
IRS Gives Boston Marathon Victims a Welcome Tax Extension — With a Catch
Online Dating Scams Cost Victims More Than $50 Million Per Year
5 Ways to Pay the IRS Less Next April

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