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Make sure your donations get to legitimate charities

Posted on November 10, 2023

When a disaster strikes, sometimes the easiest way to help is by donating money to a charity. But how do you know that your donation actually gets to your intended organization?

Sad to say, scammers solicit donations to fake charities all the time. Sometimes they pose as employees of legitimate charities or even federal agencies to fool charitable people trying to provide disaster assistance.

Although some legitimate charities do contact people directly, you should always be suspicious of any unsolicited contact.

Here’s what the IRS wants you to know:

  • IRS has a great way to check to see if your charity of choice is a verifiable nonprofit. Visit Tax Exempt Organization Search and enter the name of your intended organization. If they meet IRS requirements, your donation is likely tax-deductible
  • You can also research a charity before sending a donation to confirm that it is genuine by visiting Charity.org or Charity Navigator. Both websites vet charities thoroughly.
  • Always get a receipt and keep a record of your donation.
  • Review bank and credit card statements closely to make sure donation amounts are accurate.

Common charity scammer tactics:

  • Legitimate charities do not ask for gift cards, cash, or wire transfers.
  • Scammers can change their caller ID to make it appear they are a legitimate organization calling from a legitimate phone number.
  • Thieves may pose as a representative of a legitimate charity to ask for money or private information from well-intentioned taxpayers.
  • Scammers often make vague and sentimental claims but give no specifics about how your donation will be used.
  • Bogus websites using names that sound like real charities are common.
  • Counterfeit organizations often claim your donation will be tax deductible when it’s not.

Donating to a charity is a great way to help others after a disaster or emergency. If you suspect a scam or fraud, report it to The Federal Trade Commission. Or call the IRS disaster assistance line at 866-562-5227 with any questions.

For more information, go to National Center for Disaster Fraud or