Commissioner's Blog: Bushfires equals fake charity scams
With Commissioner for Consumer Protection David Hillyard
Seeing the recent bushfires is horrifying for most of us and we just want to help somehow. But unfortunately scammers see it as an opportunity to impersonate charities, or create fake charities. This can happen online, via social media or website pop-ups, or in person, such as at your front door or on the street.
It’s doubly cruel because not only does it con the donor out of their money, it also denies the true cause much-needed funds for those truly affected.
Prevent charity donations from ending up in the wrong hands by avoiding uninvited approaches altogether. Instead, approach your chosen charity directly, through contact details you are 100% sure of, to make a donation.
If you happen to respond to an out-of-the-blue email, phone call or face-to-face request, triple check it’s the real deal.
Online scammers might create a copycat version of a well-known charity website, so you need to be absolutely sure the url / web address you are using is the right one.
Ask door-to-door collectors for their ID and if in doubt call the charity via the number listed on their official website to check if the person truly represents them.
Any charitable fundraising in WA should only happen with the appropriate licence or permit from Consumer Protection – see our licensed charities register at www.consumerprotection.wa.gov.au
The licensing system is about preventing misuse of funds and means the charity’s finances are audited.
We know it can be impractical to obtain a licence for short-term fundraising such as a one-off event, so in those circumstances you can collect under the authority of an existing licensed charity with their permission. Feel free to call our Charities Branch for information about that on 08 6552 9364.
Remember charities offering tax deductions for any donations made to them must be registered with the national regulator, the ACNC: www.acnc.gov.au/findacharity
If you think you’ve lost money to a fake charity scam, call WA ScamNet for assistance on 1300 30 40 54.