In the wake of the tumultuous hurricanes, many simply want to help. Open hearts and open hands are truly appreciated during these times. However, scammers exploit this kindness.  The ESET security community comments: “The United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT) issued an advisory … warning the public of the danger of falling for Hurricane Harvey-related charity scams. Merciless scammers have no qualms about exploiting people’s kind-hearted nature by spreading their attacks via social networks and email, linking to counterfeit charity websites designed to steal the public’s payment card details.” How can you be generous without being taken advantage of? You must be on guard.

Donating Tips

    • Donate to charities you know and trust with a proven track record of dealing with disasters.
    • Be alert for charities that seem to have sprung up overnight in connection with current events. Check out the charity with the Better Business Bureau’s (BBB) Wise Giving AllianceCharity NavigatorCharity Watch, or GuideStar.
    • Designate the disaster so you can ensure your funds are going to disaster relief, rather than a general fund.
    • Never click on links or open attachments in e-mails unless you know who sent it.You could unknowingly install malware on your computer.
    • Don’t assume that charity messages posted on social media are legitimate. Research the organization yourself.
    • When texting to donate, confirm the number with the source before you donate.The charge will show up on your mobile phone bill, but donations are not immediate.
    • Find out if the charity or fundraiser must be registered in your state by contacting the National Association of State Charity Officials. If they should be registered, but they’re not, consider donating through another charity.

When searching online for information The ESET security community advises: “Visit legitimate news outlets if you want to keep up-to-date with developing news stories. There are many bogus fly-by-night news sites on the web who will publish anything in the hope of earning some advertising revenue…. Donating through a scam site not only benefits criminals, it also deprives charitable financial support from the people who need it the most.

Always be wary of links that offer you dramatic video footage of a news story. Malicious hackers and scammers know that the public finds it hard to resist clicking on such links, and might have planted malicious content.” Exercising discernment will ensure your generosity goes to those in need. Is the IRS offering benefits to donators?

IRS And Your Donation

On September 5, 2017 The IRS announced that a special relief designed to support leave- based donation programs to aid victims of Hurricane Harvey is in place. How does this work? The article taken from irs.gov explains, “Under these programs, employees may forgo their vacation, sick or personal leave in exchange for cash payments the employer makes, before Jan. 1, 2019, to charitable organizations providing relief for the victims of this disaster. Under this special relief, the donated leave will not be included in the income or wages of the employees. Employers will be permitted to deduct the cash payments as business expenses.” Need help on how to make these deductions for yourself or as an employer? Contact us today.