Harrisburg, PA — With
Hurricane Michael making landfall last week in Florida, the Wolf Administration
is reminding Pennsylvanians that the hurricane season may create opportunities
for scam artists to try to steal money from unsuspecting victims. Criminals
have been known to pose as representatives from charitable organizations, or
establish phony charities, to solicit donations from well-intentioned people.
every natural disaster, generous Pennsylvanians look for ways to help,” Acting
Secretary of State Robert Torres said. “Unfortunately, unscrupulous individuals
and organizations may try to take advantage at such times. We encourage donors
to be fully informed before contributing to any charitable organization.”
You can search for information
on charities soliciting in Pennsylvania by visiting
the Department of State’s website. Here
are some other tips to keep in mind:
Do not give to a charity you know nothing
about. Call the charity or do some research on your own. Search the name online
— with the word “complaints” or “scams.” Check with the Better Business Bureau.
Do not donate over the phone unless you are
familiar with the organization.
For door-to-door solicitors, ask to see the
person’s identification and consider avoiding them altogether. Do not feel
pressured into giving and allowing someone into your house.
Do not give credit card numbers, bank account
numbers or other personal financial information over the phone. Never wire
money to someone claiming to be a charity.
Whenever possible, write a check payable to the
charity so you have a record of your donation. Or make a donation directly
through a legitimate organization’s secure website, rather than a third-party
Don't click links in unsolicited emails or on social
media. Unless you previously donated to an organization, assume that an
unsolicited donation request by email is a scam. Plus, links in emails or
social media can unleash malware.
Potential tax scam
Secretary Dan Hassell also warned of a ploy that involves scammers contacting
disaster victims claiming to be working on behalf of the IRS.
to a warning issued by the IRS, the scammers try to gain access to personal
information by falsely claiming to assist natural disaster victims with
casualty loss claims, which allow taxpayers to make a deduction on their federal
tax returns for damaged or lost items not covered by insurance.
give out your Social Security number over the phone. If a caller is asking you
for this information, hang up immediately,” Secretary Hassell said. “Remember
that criminals often pose as the IRS or other government officials to trick you
into falling for a scam.”
Hassell also encouraged those interested in making a charitable donation to
check online with the IRS if they have any doubt regarding the validity of a
charity. Click here to access the
IRS’ Tax Exempt Organization Search, which allows people to find legitimate,
a reminder, if you are a victim of identity theft or discover a fraudulent
Pennsylvania personal income tax return was filed using your identity, please
contact the Department of Revenue’s Fraud Investigation Unit at 717-772-9297 or
MEDIA CONTACT: Wanda
Murren, Department of State, 717-783-1621
Johnson, Revenue, 717-787-6960
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