Attorney general warns of possible scams in wake of Harvey

VIRGINIA (WAVY) — Attorney General Mark Herring is warning Virginians of possible scams in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.

In a video released by the attorney general’s office Wednesday, Herring said that fake charities often pop up following natural disasters.

To avoid becoming a victim, donate to only well-known organizations, such as the American Red Cross.

Be wary of solicitations for donations and do your homework on the organization before opening your wallet.

Here are tips from the IRS to be sure you’re donating to a legitimate cause:

  • Be sure to donate to recognized charities.
  • Be wary of charities with names that are similar to familiar or nationally known organizations. Some phony charities use names or websites that sound or look like those of respected, legitimate organizations. The IRS website at IRS.gov has a search feature, Exempt Organizations Select Check, through which people may find qualified charities; donations to these charities may be tax-deductible.
  • Don’t give out personal financial information — such as Social Security numbers or credit card and bank account numbers and passwords — to anyone who solicits a contribution. Scam artists may use this information to steal a donor’s identity and money.
  • Never 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.
  • Consult IRS Publication 526, Charitable Contributions, available on IRS.gov. This free booklet describes the tax rules that apply to making legitimate tax-deductible donations. Among other things, it also provides complete details on what records to keep.