Donate safely this bushfire season

7 January 2015

If you are considering donating to bushfire appeals, the ACCC is encouraging you to double check if the appeal or its organisers are legitimate so that your generosity reaches victims, not scammers.

“There are many worthy organisations that provide much-needed assistance to those affected by the summer bushfires,” ACCC Acting Chair Dr Michael Schaper said.

“Unfortunately, there are also scammers who capitalise on tragic events as soon as they happen and divert funds away from those in need.”

Last year, over $400,000 was reported lost to various fake charity scams – with more than 600 contacts made to the ACCC.

Scammers will approach targets using many guises to try and trick people into misplacing their goodwill.

The South Australian Country Fire Service (SA CFS) recently issued a warning after receiving enquiries from the public about someone door knocking and collecting cash donations. The SA CFS does not door-knock to seek donations.

The ACCC has received reports that social media sites are being used to seek donations to support those affected by bushfires. There are no guarantees these funds will find their way to those you intended.

“Donate freely but donate wisely by checking that your money is going to a legitimate charity on the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) register,” Dr Schaper said.

“Don’t let unscrupulous fraudsters take advantage of your generosity and make sure your donation reaches those who need it in bushfire-affected communities.”

Protect yourself:

  • If you are considering making a donation to a charity, cause or appeal, approach the organisation directly using their official contact details to make the payment.
  • Check an organisation’s credentials at the ACNC website
  • If you are approached by a street collector, ask to see their identification. If you have any doubts about who they are, do not pay and contact the organisation directly. Don’t rely on contact details provided by the person – find them through an independent source such as a phone book or online search.
  • If you are approached at home or over the phone, ask the collector for details about the charity such as its full name, address and how the proceeds will be used. If they become defensive and cannot answer your questions, close the door or hang up.
  • If you receive an email from an unverified sender, do not click on any links or open attachments and press ‘delete’.
  • Never give money or your financial details to someone you don’t trust.

If you think you’ve spotted a scam, report it to SCAMwatch or contact the ACCC on 1300 795 995. You should also spread the word to your friends and family to protect them.

Release number: 
MR 1/15
ACCC Infocentre: 

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