Tips to avoid ‘fraudster’ charities this holiday period

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THE Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) is urging the public to do a quick online charity credential check before donating this festive season, to avoid giving money to “fraudster” charities.

Many passionate Australian charities have been hard hit by the covid, according to commissioner Dr Gary Johns who urges people to check the charity before donating.

“Unfortunately, fraudsters, masquerade as charities, exploiting goodwill, scams are on the rise. It is crucial to do at least a quick online check before giving to be confident your donation is going to an organisation that genuinely does good work,” he says.

“We know the loss of income for some charities is significant, particularly for those that relied heavily on public fundraising events, although official data is yet to be reported.”

According to Scamwatch, reported charity scams were up nearly 70 per cent over January-July, compared with the same period in 2019, driven by charity frauds linked to the bushfire crisis.

“It takes a minute to check the ACNC online Charity Register to see if an organisation you would like to donate to is a legitimate charity,” Mr Johns says.

“You simply enter an organisation’s name into the register to find a snapshot of its activities, its purpose, who it helps, where it operates and some key financial details.”

If donating to a charity via a third-party crowdfunding campaign, Mr Johns says be mindful that a nominated charity is bound to use donations according to the rules set out in its governing documents.

To avoid giving money to scammers, the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) recommends:

  • Before giving, check a charity’s credentials on the ACNC website Charity Register acnc.gov.au/charity
  • Look for established and registered charities that are running verified Christmas/festive season appeals. 
  • If you get a call from someone claiming to be from a charity, ask to call them back. Search the Charity Register and call back using the phone number published there.
  • If donating to a charity via a third-party crowdfunding campaign, be aware the charity is bound by its own rules in the way it spends donated funds, not by a third-party’s promises.
  • Don’t click on links in unsolicited emails and social media posts. It is safer to visit a charity’s website, to avoid clicking a link to an imitation website.
  • Don’t give out your credit card and bank account details on social media and be cautious when doing so online. 
  • Always ask for identification from door-to-door and street fundraising collectors.

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