Acting Commissioner Deborah Jenkins is urging the public to beware of fake charity scams, as new Scamwatch data shows more than 600 reports of such scams have been received in 2022 so far.
“Fake charity scams are sadly a common occurrence,” Ms Jenkins said.
“And disappointingly, scammers try to cash in on the generosity of Australians in times of natural disasters by impersonating charities. It is always best to check the ACNC Charity Register to ensure a charity is legitimate before donating to them,” she said.
Ms Jenkins also said that it was likely that the actual number of fake charity scams is much higher.
“People may not know to report fake charity scams to Scamwatch, or may feel too embarrassed to but it is important to report fake scams if you become aware of one,” she said.
Ms Jenkins said it was important that charities also take appropriate steps to manage risks and protect data they hold.
“Charities hold data that can be valuable to scammers. It is important that charities know this and take steps to mitigate potential risks. Carrying out a risk assessment is a straightforward task that can help charities focus their resources and mitigation efforts,” Ms Jenkins said.
“To reduce the scam risk both charities and the public need to be alert.”
If you have been the victim of a scam, or you are suspicious of a request to donate, report it to Scamwatch. Reporting a scam helps the ACCC to warn people about current scams, monitor trends and disrupt scams where possible.
For more information about scam activity in Australia, or to report a scam, visit scamwatch.gov.au.
Tips before donating:
- Look for established, registered charities running verified appeals.
- Do a quick check to see if the organisation is on the Charity Register and find details about its main work.
- Don’t click on links in unsolicited emails and social media posts which may take you to a fake, scam website. Find the charity’s website in a search engine or on the Charity Register.
- Don’t give your credit card and bank account details on social media and be cautious online.
- If you get a call claiming to be from a charity, say you’ll call back. Search the Charity Register and call back on the number shown there.
Tips for charities:
- Don’t collect data you don’t absolutely need from donors and volunteers.
- Keep bank details secure, do not publish them on public platforms such as websites and social media platforms.
- Regularly review the information about donors and volunteers you hold, and take steps to protect it.
- Ensure you have a clear contact point on your website, promotional material and social media platforms.
- If your charity is being impersonated, report scams to Scamwatch, any online platforms involved (such as crowdfunding sites and social media), and financial institutions if necessary.
- Listing legitimate ways to accept donations on official websites or social media channels.
Between 1 Jan and 25 September:
- Scamwatch received 603 reports, with losses of over $336,000 to charity scams.
- The most common contact mode was phone (296 reports), social networking/online forums (77 reports) and email (73 reports).
- The majority of losses were paid via bank transfer ($287,180), followed by cash ($18,170) and World Remit ($15,000).
- People aged 65 and over reported the highest total losses ($171,105), followed by people aged 45-54 ($94,855) and 25-34 ($23,379).
- Reports from men (282) and women (290) were on par (noting 31 reports not specified), however men suffered higher total losses ($255,506) compared with women ($75,161).