Bogus earthquake charity collections
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Beware of bogus charity collectors using the earthquake in New Zealand as a way to scam people out of money.
Within two days of the disaster in Christchurch, Consumer Protection began to receive information about email scammers pretending to represent legitimate charities.
Commissioner for Consumer Protection Anne Driscoll said these charity scams divert funds away from those in dire need and warned Western Australians not to be duped.
“I know many of us will want to give generously to our trans-Tasman neighbours but we need to make absolutely sure that money does not end up lining the pockets of scammers.
“Already Consumer Protection has heard of emails purporting to be from legitimate charities like the Red Cross. These emails include links, which when clicked, direct you to an unsecure payment system.
“Sometimes email addresses will include the name of a true charity but this is done using a technique called email spoofing, where the sender’s address and header are altered to appear as though the email originated from a different source.
“WA ScamNet’s advice is to avoid responding to uninvited approaches for charity donations, either online, via SMS or in person.
“There are several ways to provide financial assistance to victims of the Christchurch earthquake including official phone lines, designated banks and a genuine relief fund account which you can directly transfer money to. You can find all of this information on the New Zealand Charities Commission website www.charities.govt.nz.”
The Ministry of Consumer Affairs in New Zealand has issued an online warning about earthquake charity scam emails at www.consumeraffairs.govt.nz. Meanwhile UK-based ‘donation4charity’ has confirmed that its name is being used in a bogus email where recipients are offered a charity collection job opportunity, involving a 10 per cent cut of proceeds.
Ms Driscoll added that anyone in WA wishing to collect money or fundraise for the Christchurch earthquake victims would need to get permission from a licensed charity to act on their behalf.
“This rule exists to give donors certainty that their money will go to the cause they believe they are giving to. There is a system in place, for example, to provide street collectors with permits.”
Consumer Protection holds a register of licensed charities in WA. You can view it at www.commerce.wa.gov.au/charities or call 1300 30 40 54 to verify the authenticity of a charity.
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(Consumer Protection is a division of the Department of Commerce)
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