Tax fraud scam using charities

The IRS Spotlights Charity Fraud Awareness

  • October 21, 2021

The Internal Revenue Service is teaming up with international organizations and regulators this week to call attention to the dangers of charity fraud and to bolster charity fraud awareness.

Raising awareness of fraud and cybercrime affecting charities and their donors

The Charity Fraud Awareness Week campaign brings together a group of charities, regulators, law enforcement organizations and nonprofits from around the globe with the goal of raising awareness of fraud and cybercrime affecting organizations and to create a safe space for charities and their supporters to discuss fraud and share helpful practices.

Charity-focused cybercrime and charity fraud is on the rise, fueled by the COVID-19 pandemic

According to the Fraud Advisory Panel, the U.K.-based organization leading the campaign, cybercrime is on the increase, fueled by the COVID-19 pandemic, with charities, their supporters and beneficiaries finding themselves under attack. The panel estimates that the average charitable organization will lose 5% of its revenue to fraud per year. The IRS is partnering in Charity Fraud Awareness Week as part of its ongoing efforts to combat fraud against charities, businesses and individuals.

Along with hitting charities with cybercrime, fraudsters are also setting up fake charities, which are again listed among the IRS’s “Dirty Dozen” tax scams for 2021.

Beware of fake charitable organizations

“We especially advise taxpayers to be on the lookout for scammers who set up fake organizations to take advantage of the public's generosity,” said Rob Malone, director of the IRS’s Exempt Organizations and Government Entities division, in a statement Monday. “They take advantage of tragedies and disasters, such as the COVID-19 pandemic. Campaigns like Charity Fraud Awareness Week can help remind everyone to remain vigilant.”

Scams requesting donations for disaster relief efforts over the phone are especially common. Taxpayers should always check out a charity before they donate, and they should not feel pressured to give immediately.

#StopCharityFraud on social media

A cornerstone of international Charity Fraud Awareness Week is a social media campaign focused on the theme of “We Can Do This” and featuring the hashtag #StopCharityFraud.

A special website has been created for the campaign and includes information to help partners, charities and other tax-exempt organizations and nonprofits find out more details about Charity Fraud Awareness Week, as well as free resources, a fraud pledge for organizations, and a list of webinars and other events planned for the week.

Anyone involved in charities and nonprofits – and their advisors – should be armed to combat charity fraud

Those encouraged to participate in the week’s activities include accountants, auditors, and those acting as professional advisors to nonprofits; trustees, staff and volunteers from charities, non-governmental organizations, and nonprofits; organizations that represent the interests of nonprofits; and regulators, law enforcement officials and policymakers working to safeguard nonprofits.

Taxpayers can locate legitimate, qualified charities with an IRS search tool

If you'd like to read more information about Charity Fraud Awareness Week, visit the Fraud Advisory Panel website. Taxpayers can find legitimate, qualified charities with the Tax Exempt Organization Search tool on

The key is to stay informed about charity fraud

It's important to be aware of the many ways that cyber criminals are leveraging the good hearts of taxpayers to take advantage of them in so many ways. Stay informed on what to look out for.

If you think you've been a victim of charity fraud or cybercrime, reach out to me or any of my Tax Problem Solver Team, and we can help you with whatever's going on. Contact me by one of the methods below in the blue box, or email me at and we can review your specific issues and solve them. You can also book your free consultation online by Clicking here.

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About the Author Larry Heinkel J.D. LL.M

Larry Heinkel is a tax and bankruptcy attorney with more than 38 years experience helping businesses and individuals, solve their state and federal tax problems. Mr. Heinkel has been extremely successful in representing his clients before IRS and DOR, and is known throughout Florida as an expert in tax problem resolution.

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