Scams can undermine the good work of genuine charities and take advantage of the generosity of Australians.

Fake charity scammers will steal by posing as a genuine charity, either in person or online. These scams can cost individuals money, while also diverting funds and donations away from legitimate causes and charities.

In 2018-19, Scamwatch received 996 reports of fake charity scams, with a total recorded loss of more than $300,000.

Telephone scams were the most common, with 394 reports, followed by emails with 169 reports and in person scams with 146 reports. Those contacted on the internet suffered the highest losses, totalling more than $105,000.

There are a few things that donors can do to donate with confidence to a registered charity. These include:

  • Avoid clicking unknown links or providing payment details over the phone when approached to make a donation.
  • Never send money or give personal information, credit card details or online account details to anyone you don’t know or trust.
  • If you are approached by a street collector, ask to see their identification. If you have any doubts about who they are, do not pay.
  • If you are approached in person, 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 walk away.
  • Search the ACNC Charity Register at acnc.gov.au/charity to determine if an organisation is legitimate.

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.

This week (12 – 16 August) is National Scams Awareness Week, an initiative of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and Scamwatch.