This week has been set aside by the Internal Revenue Service and charitable organizations across the globe to highlight their annual International Charity Fraud Awareness Week (ICFAW).
The week brings together those in the charity and not-for-profit circles to raise awareness of good practices for tackling fraud and cybercrime—and to encourage sharing of those practices. The activities run through Oct. 23.
The award-winning campaign is led by a coalition of more than 40 charities, regulators, law enforcement agencies, representatives and other not-for-profit stakeholders. The IRS is partnering with ICFAW as part of its commitment to fight fraud against charities, businesses and individuals.
All charities are vulnerable to fraud and can be targeted by cybercriminals. Those that provide services and support local communities may be especially vulnerable to fraudsters attempting to exploit the current pandemic or weather-related disasters. More than ever, charities need to be fraud-aware and take steps to protect their money, people and assets from harm.
"Especially during these uncertain times, it's vital for everyone to remain vigilant against fraud, identity theft, scams and schemes," said IRS Director of Exempt Organizations and Government Entities, Margaret Von Lienen. "Cybercriminals are always on the lookout for new opportunities, and COVID-19 is just one more chance to take advantage of unsuspecting individuals and charities. This campaign provides resources that can help protect charities and other organizations."
This year's campaign has three core messages:
- Be fraud-aware
- Take time to check
- Keep your charity safe
Visit the ICFAW Charity Fraud Hub for helpful documents, free tutorials, videos, case studies and on-demand webinars. One featured offering is COVID-19 and charity fraud: what to watch for and how to stay safe.
Anyone interested in fighting fraud can take part in the ICFAW social media campaign using #charityfraudout.
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
In addition to crooks who target existing charities, those who create fake charities are a problem for the non-profit community. In fact, fake charities are once again part of the IRS' "Dirty Dozen" tax scams for 2020. Taxpayers can find legitimate and qualified charities with the Tax Exempt Organization Search tool on IRS.gov.
Visit the Fraud Advisory Panel website to learn more about ICFAW and how to get involved.