12 Christmas scams, day 6: charity scams

TULSA, Okla. – It’s the season to give.

But your charitable heart can put you at risk of falling victim to con artists.

2News Oklahoma Problem Solvers warns us about charity scams, as we count the 12 Christmas scams.

The FBI warns that crooks are soliciting donations for individuals and groups affected by the pandemic. People want to help. And because life has changed so much, they don’t question suspicious transactions

Unfortunately, every dollar donated does not go to the people who desperately need it.

This concerned Sophie, from Tulsa, who called us to say, “I donated $ 100 to a group that I hadn’t heard of before, but a gentleman called saying they were helping them. families during the holidays, who were still suffering financially from Covid. I used my debit card, but when I looked at the transaction on my account, I knew it was a fraud. “

Sophie is certainly not alone.

The FBI has received reports of crooks using the pandemic as a means to use your money.

“As scammers sort of adapt their normal playbook to incorporate something that you know might be a little more believable because of COVID-19.”

Surveillance Special Agent Keith Custer said people accept these scams because our sense of normalcy has changed.

“When you’re asked to do something a little unusual, like buy a bunch of gift cards, and no way to find out, to pay for something, then, you know, sometimes people let their guard down and think oh, well, that sounds reasonable when in fact it really isn’t. “

Pay with a credit card and donate to organizations you know, verify they are registered with your state. And websites like GuideStar and Charity Navigator can tell you how much organizations are spending on programs and services versus overhead and fundraising and don’t feel pressured to donate over the phone. The caller can be an impostor or mask who they work for.

“We have seen people incorporate political action committees or PACs. They solicit donations on behalf of volunteer firefighters.”

Back to Sophie, she said, “I’m a widow and I have some extra money, and I love helping people. I’m just upset that I ended up giving money to scammers. “

Along with a generous spirit, like Sophie’s, there is another incentive to give.

The IRS is once again offering a special tax deduction for those claiming the standard deduction.

Single taxpayers can deduct up to $ 300 in cash donations, and married people can deduct up to $ 600 in donations when they file their taxes next year.

But that’s only for qualifying tax-exempt organizations.

The IRS has an easy search tool on its website.

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