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Beware Charity Flood Scams: ACCC

18 January 2011 at 10:03 am
Staff Reporter
As Australian’s open their wallets to donate to the QLD floods appeals, the consumer watchdog, the ACCC has warned people to be wary of charity scams.

Staff Reporter | 18 January 2011 at 10:03 am


Beware Charity Flood Scams: ACCC
18 January 2011 at 10:03 am

As Australian’s open their wallets to donate to the QLD floods appeals, the consumer watchdog, the ACCC has warned people to be wary of charity scams.

The ACCC website SCAMwatch is warning people to thoroughly check the legitimacy of charities when donating to help flood victims in central and south east Queensland.

SCAMwatch says scammers have been known to take advantage of the public’s generosity and kindness in the aftermath of disastrous events, and with more than $85 million already donated to Qld flood appeals, the risk posed by charity scams in serious.

SCAMwatch says charity scams emerged during the Haiti earthquake crisis in 2010 and the Victorian bushfires in 2009.

The website says charity scams operate in a number of different ways. Individuals may be approached on the street or at home by people collecting money who are pretending to be from a legitimate charity.

SCAMwatch says scammers may also set up false websites which look similar to those operated by real charities. Some scammers will also approach people by telephone or with spam emails requesting donations.

SCAMwatch says not only do these scams cost people money, they also divert much needed donations away from legitimate charities and causes.

SCAMwatch says consumers should be aware of the following when donating to a charity:

Warning signs for charity scams

  • You have not heard of the charity before.
  • The scam operates via a fake website which is a very close replica to a legitimate charity site. Scammers may also use replica letters and emails.
  • A collector makes a face-to-face approach but does not have any identification or has forged identification.
  • The collector cannot or will not give you details about the charity, such as its full name, address or phone number.
  • The collector becomes defensive over questions about what the charity does and how much of the donation gets taken up by costs.
  • The collector asks for cash, won't accept a cheque or asks for any cheque to be made out to them rather than to the charity. Illegitimate online collectors will insist on payment by money transfer.
  • The collector doesn’t want to provide a receipt or the receipt does not have the charity’s details on it.

How to protect yourself from charity scams

  • Approach charity organisations directly to make a donation.
  • Don’t rely on a phone number or website address given by the person who first called, visited or emailed you because they could be impersonating a legitimate charity.
  • Never give out your personal, credit card or online account details unless you initiated contact and it is a trusted source.
  • If you are approached out of the blue by a collector ask to see their identification.
  • Legitimate charities are registered at the state or territory level—check with your local fair trading agency to see if they are a genuine charity.
  • Don't open suspicious or unsolicited emails (spam)—delete them.

To donate to the Queensland Premier’s Flood Relief Effort, please visit

Report a charity SCAM to the ACCC via the report a scam page on SCAMwatch or by calling 1300 795 995.

You can also let Pro Bono Australia News know by emailing

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