IRS warns about charity scams following Boston and Texas tragedies

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The IRS issued a warning, urging people to do their homework before opening up their wallets.

The warning comes following two tragic events at the Boston Marathon and West, Texas.  

"Just be very careful.  It's good to be generous but it's not good to be taken advantage of," Missouri IRS spokesman Michael Devine said. 

The IRS warns scam artists work to steal your money by impersonating legitimate charities. The agency suggests you should not hand over private, financial information which can make it easy for someone to steal your identity. 

"It takes us months to clean up your tax account so it's always better to be generous but be careful and know who you are giving your money to," Devine said.    

Before you try to help out the victims of any tragedy or disaster, the IRS offers these tips:

1)    Choose qualified charities

2)    Do not give out personal information

3)    Do not give out or send cash

4)    Report suspected fraud

If you plan to write off a donation, check to see if it is a legit tax exempt organization. Use the Exempt Organizations Select Check tool at IRS.gov.   You can also check out a charity at FEMA's website .

"Ask if they're registered with the IRS as an exempt organization," Devine said. "Look them up on their website.  You do the research. Don't just take their word for it."

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