IRS joins international organizations in fighting charity fraud during special awareness week

IR-2021-205, October 18, 2021

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service is joining international organizations and other regulators in highlighting Charity Fraud Awareness Week, October 18-22.

The campaign is run by a partnership of charities, regulators, law enforcers and other not-for-profit stakeholders from across the world. The purpose of the week is to raise awareness of fraud and cybercrime affecting organizations and to create a safe space for charities and their supporters to talk about fraud and share good practice.

According to the Fraud Advisory Panel, a UK-based organization leading the effort, cybercrime is on the rise, exacerbated by the pandemic, including attacks on charities, their supporters and beneficiaries. It estimates that the average charitable organization will lose 5% of its revenue to fraud each year. The IRS is a partner in Charity Fraud Awareness Week as part of its ongoing commitment to fight fraud against charities, businesses and individuals.

In addition to cybercrime targeting charities, criminals who create fake charities are also a problem. Fake charities are once again part of the IRS's Dirty Dozen tax scams for 2021. Taxpayers can find legitimate and qualified charities with the Tax Exempt Organization Search tool on IRS.gov.

"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 IRS Director of Exempt Organizations and Government Entities Rob Malone. "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 are especially common on the phone. Taxpayers should always check out a charity before they donate, and they should not feel pressured to give immediately.

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 was created for the campaign and features information to help partners, charities and other tax-exempt organizations and non-profits find:

  • Details about the awareness week
  • Free resources
  • A fraud pledge for organizations
  • A listing of webinars and other events held as part of the week

Those encouraged to participate in the week's activities include:

  • Trustees, staff and volunteers from charities, non-government organizations, and non-profits
  • Organizations that represent the interests of non-profits
  • Accountants, auditors and those acting as professional advisors to non-profits
  • Regulators, law enforcement officials and policymakers working to safeguard non-profits

Visit the Fraud Advisory Panel website to learn more about Charity Fraud Awareness Week and how to get involved.

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