Fake Charities Falling in Australia
19 January 2016 at 11:53 am
The amount of money Australians are losing in fake charity scams is on the decline, with the figure falling by almost 60 per cent in just one year.
According to the latest figures from Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) Scamwatch, Australians lost a total of $68,000 in 2015 in 895 reported fake charity cases.
The figure was a drastic drop on the amount of money reported lost to fake charities in 2014, when $165,000 was lost across 677 cases.
The ACCC said the most common way that fake charities had successfully targeted members of the public was over the phone, with that method being attributed to roughly half of the reported cases.
Scams conducted by email and in person were the next most common methods, attributing to roughly 20 per cent of cases.
Other methods such as using text messages or mobile applications were used in roughly 2 per cent of cases.
According to Scamwatch, in fake charity scams impersonators typically pretended to be genuine charities and ask for donations or contact people, claiming to be collecting money for relief efforts after natural disasters.
“Fake charities try to take advantage of your generosity and compassion for others in need,” the ACCC said.
“Scammers will steal your money by posing as a genuine charity. Not only do these scams cost you money, they also divert much needed donations away from legitimate charities and causes.
“Fake charity approaches occur all year round and often take the form of a response to real disasters or emergencies, such as floods, cyclones, earthquakes and bushfires. Scammers will pose as either agents of legitimate well-known charities or create their own charity name. This can include charities that conduct medical research or support disease sufferers and their families.
“Scammers may also play on your emotions by claiming to help children who are ill.”
The ACCC said fake charities operated in a number of different ways.
“You may be approached on the street or at your front door by people collecting money. Scammers may also set up fake websites which look similar to those operated by real charities. Some scammers will call or email you requesting a donation,” it said.
The ACCC said typical warning signs that a member of the public was being approached by a fake charity were if they had never heard of the charity before, the person collecting donations on behalf of the charity does not have any identification, they will only accept cash or they make the donor feel guilty or selfish if they don’t want to donate.
Members of the public that want to check if a charity is registered with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) before they donate to it can check the register.