The massive fires in California, the most recent hurricane season, funerals for the latest victims of gun violence, a neighbor seemingly put under unexpected financial strain by health or other events out of their control. The internet and social media have made it so easy to be aware of and contribute to help those in need.

With the plethora of questionable news sources on social media, email and the internet, so goes giving opportunities. As we see in this most recent instance, scammers are using our generous natures to steal from us. Social Media and the internet have extended the reach of these scammers beyond local fund drives and the tin can at our local stores, etc.

Two People Out of Gas Helped by Homeless Man – “The three accumulated more than $402,000 in donations from more than 14,000 people. They were able to trick the donors by preventing donors from acquiring information about the campaign….” (click here for an article from NPR)

To quote the author and historian, Jon Meacham, we want to believe in and feed our “better angels.” Sadly, the scammers count on that and know how to play us. Be cautious about donating to individuals and clicking through on legitimate-looking links.

Giving is a wonderful thing, please check with sources such as Charity Navigator, or Guidestar and make sure your donations are going where and how you intend it.

Lastly, if your donation is equal or greater than $250, a “contemporaneous written acknowledgment” is required from the charity – “A donor claiming a deduction of $250 or more is also required to obtain and keep a contemporaneous written acknowledgment for a charitable contribution. To be contemporaneous the written acknowledgment must generally be obtained by the donor no later than the date the donor files the return for the year the contribution is made. The donor is responsible for requesting and obtaining the written acknowledgment from the donee. Although there is no prescribed format for the written acknowledgment, it must provide sufficient information to substantiate the amount of the contribution. For more information, see Publication 1771.”

Happy Holidays!