Thursday, January 28, 2010
Report from U.S. House
Following the catastrophic earthquake in Haiti on January 12, Americans from all walks of life have shown extraordinary support through monetary donations.
Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation to help earthquake victims in Haiti by offering an immediate benefit to Americans who make charitable contributions to aid the region. This bipartisan legislation will allow individuals to claim any donations to the relief effort as an itemized deduction on their 2009 tax return, instead of waiting to claim it on their 2010 return.
This measure will promote timely giving to Haiti, in the days and weeks when the region needs help the most. The bill would also make clear that the many taxpayers making a charitable contribution to victims of the Haiti earthquake through a text message will be able to rely on their cell phone bill when claiming a charitable donation.
National Center for Disaster Fraud to Coordinate Haitian Fraud Complaints
Despite Americans’ overwhelming generosity in the face of tragedy, scammers have already pounced on the opportunity to use the tragedy to their own personal benefit.
Scammers were contacting unsuspecting individuals only two days after the quake struck. Initially, these were falsified requests for potential donors to wire money to an address in the United Kingdom, and today the deceptive appeals for funds are even more widespread. Some fake emails have now even begun using the logos, addresses, and content of messages that have already been sent out by legitimate organizations.
The FBI has responded with some tips to help avoid the scams:
Try to avoid cash donations, and never make out a check to an individual. Paying by credit card, debit card, or check provides evidence of the donation.
Do not respond to any unsolicited spam emails and never open attachments from distrustful sources. Some scams have attached supposed photos to emails that have turned out to be viruses.
Confirm an organization’s legitimacy by using the IRS’s charity search service, which can be accessed at www.irs.gov. The IRS lists registered charitable organizations in this directory. If you believe you have been a victim of fraud, contact the FBI’s Haiti Fraud hotline at (866) 720-5721.
I am incredibly grateful to all of the Americans who are making selfless contributions to help Haiti recover from this disaster.
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