11/20/2012 04:16 pm ET Updated Jan 20, 2013

Not All Charities Are Created Equal

Two weeks after Hurricane Sandy slammed the East Coast, claiming (as of this writing) 110 lives, the American Red Cross has raised $117 million as of Nov. 9 and dispensed all of its emergency response vehicles to help the hard-hit areas.

The American Red Cross has also been under fire by critics who are calling the charity's response to the Hurricane Sandy recovery effort as slow. As tempting as it may be to donate funds to another or new charity, not all charities are created equal... and some may even be scams!

The IRS is warning potential donors about scams because scammers usually surface during national disasters! In addition, I also have some tips to help protect you from scammers!

  1. Donate money and property to recognized charities. You won't get a tax deduction for donating to a charity not recognized by the IRS.
  2. Visit the IRS website at to find legitimate and qualified charities to make a tax deductible donation. On the website, go to "Exempt Organizations", then "Select Check."
  3. You can also visit the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) website at for other qualified disaster focused charities.
  4. Don't give or send cash! Donate with a credit card or check for better proof of donation.
  5. Scammers often solicit from victims via phone or mimic reputable charities via email. If you receive either, ask for the organization's name, phone number and website address and confirm their existence with the IRS or FEMA.

Avoiding scammers and their sophisticated schemes will allow you to help the many people affected by Hurricane Sandy. After all, "Charity Begins at Home."

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