The Boston Globe

In times of need like these, the best and the worst of
human nature emerge.

The impulse to give, whether in the form of money,
food, clothing, blood, or time, is among the best
aspects, while among the worst is the attempt by some
to profit from scams.

Already, more than enough blood and supplies have been
donated to meet the immediate needs of the victims of
the terrorist attacks and the rescue workers, and
millions of dollars have been pledged to such
organizations as the American Red Cross, United Way,
and Salvation Army.

Yet at the same time, the Massachusetts attorney
general and the state office of consumer affairs and
business regulation have already had to warn about
charity scams, and state securities regulators, about
investment scams.

But there are ways you can make your monetary
donations go as far as possible without falling prey
to fraud.

Donate to a charity with little or no administrative

For instance, in the case of the newly created
September 11th Fund (, the
Pentagon Assistance Fund (, and the New
York Firefighters 9-11 Disaster Relief Fund
(, 100 percent of contributions are going
to help the victims and their families and none to
overhead. Stop & Shop is picking up all of the
administrative expenses, while at the same time
matching up to $1 million in donations to its newly
created American Heroes Fund.

And to protect yourself from being scammed, check out
a charity with the attorney general's public charities
division (617-727-2200, ext. 2101), and an investment
offer with the secretary of state's securities
division (1-800-269-5428).

The IRS' heart keeps getting bigger

Last week, I wrote about the tax relief the Internal
Revenue Service was providing to some taxpayers who
were directly affected by the terrorist attacks, and
those who live in New York City or Arlington County,
Va., where the Pentagon is located.

Now the Internal Revenue service has granted an
extension for all taxpayers who were supposed to file
quarterly estimated tax payments by last Monday, but
didn't, or who otherwise missed a deadline since Sept.

The extension isn't for long, however. The new
deadline is tomorrow. For details, look up Notice
2001-63 on
And in other IRS news, relating to the saga about the
thousands of New England and upstate New York
taxpayers whose checks sent to a Pittsburgh post
office box never got cashed:

Now that it's been discovered that some bank employees
had hidden the checks or put them in a pile to be
shredded, out of fear they'd fallen behind, and now
that Mellon Bank has fired those employees and lost
the federal contract, the IRS says it's safe to use
that Pittsburgh post office box again.

The IRS hasn't upped its estimate of 1,800 taxpayer
checks missing since April, but the US Senate Finance
Committee reported last month that at least 40,000
payments involving $810 million were either lost or

For taxpayers whose April checks still haven't been
cashed, the IRS recommends they call 1-800-829-1040, 7
a.m. to 11 p.m. every day except Sunday, and let the
agency know they're part of the "problem alert"
involving the Pittsburgh post office box. Then they
should stop payment on the check, and wait for a
letter from the IRS in Andover with instructions for
sending a new check and a form to get reimbursed for
stop-check fees.

If taxpayers can't get through on the phone, the IRS
has set up a special address for correspondence on the
issue: IRS, Attn: Remittance Recovery Stop 321, P.O.
Box 9936, Andover, MA 01810.

SIDEBAR: Making your donation count
The American Red Cross suggests people consider
contributing their tax rebate of up to $600, or any
other amount, to help those affected by the terrorist
Amount What it buys
$600 Food for one week and clothing for a family of
$300 Five days of meals, motel stays for one displaced
$250 One day of emergency shelter, food for 50 victims
$100 Replacement prescriptions for three victims