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Make Sure Your Donation Goes To A Legitimate Charity

Dr Michael Schaper
16th February, 2015

If you’re planning to donate to a bushfire appeal check whether the organisers are legitimate so your money reaches the victims, not scammers.

In recent summers we’ve seen devastating natural disasters. We’ve also seen scammers try and capitalise on these tragic events as soon as they happen.

Scammers will use many guises to try and trick you into misplacing your generosity. The ACCC has received reports that social media sites are being used to seek donations purportedly to support those affected by bushfires. Other people report having been approached by phone, email and face-to-face. Unfortunately, there are no guarantees these funds will find their way to those you intended.

The South Australian Country Fire Service also recently warned about reports received from the public about door-knockers claiming to represent the service and seeking to collect cash donations. In fact, the SA CFS doesn’t actually door-knock to seek donations. Not only do these types of scams cost people money, they also divert much-needed donations away from genuine causes.

There are many legitimate organisations that provide much-needed assistance to those affected by the natural disasters. If you’re looking to help people in need, donate freely but wisely by making sure your donation goes to a legitimate charity by following these tips.

  • 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. Never simply rely on details provided to you by someone seeking an unsolicited donation.
  • Check an organisation’s credentials at Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission register
  • If you’re approached by a street collector, ask to see their identification. If you have any doubts about who they are, do not pay and instead 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 – these may contain malicious software that can infect your computer. Instead, press ‘delete’.
  • Never give money or your financial details to someone you don’t trust.
  • Keep up to date with the latest scam warnings by visiting scamwatch.gov.au

Dr Michael Schaper
Acting Chair
Australian Competition and Consumer Commission

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