Authorities look to stamp out bushfire donation scams
13 January 2020 at 3:49 pm
The government wants to make it easier for Australians to aid bushfire relief efforts
The National Bushfire Recovery Agency has published a list of registered charities that are running bushfire appeals, as it looks to stop Australians falling prey to bushfire-related scams.
The list – jointly compiled by the Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission (ACNC), the Australian Taxation Office and Treasury – identifies credible bushfire appeals which people can make tax deductible donations to.
It comes as the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) warned last week it had received 86 reports of bushfire-related scams since September last year.
ACNC commissioner Dr Gary Johns said Australians needed to be wary of such scams.
“We have had a strong response nationally and internationally to the bushfire disaster which is very heartening,” Johns said.
“But it is important to give to legitimate charities with bushfire appeals and avoid scams. This list helps people easily identify charities with bushfire appeals.”
Johns noted the listed charities were not the only organisations Australians should consider giving to.
He said the list would help people who wanted to make tax deductible donations but were unsure of how to identify a credible appeal.
“This makes identifying a registered charity easier. However, there will be a range of activities throughout the relief and recovery process that will need charitable support, and people should keep this in mind when donating,” he said.
The ACCC has also opened a dedicated hotline to report bushfire-related scams.
Victorian Emergency Services Minister Lisa Neville warned that people were impersonating bushfire victims and door-knocking to solicit donations.
“Because everyone wants to do so much, people are contributing towards what are scams and fakes, including some door-knocking,” Neville said.
Scammers are impersonating well-known charities or creating their own charity names, and using cold-calling, direct messaging and fake websites to raise money.
People can reach the ACCC hotline on 1300 795 995.
As many of you will know Pro Bono Australia’s flagship product is our Guide to Giving, which has established itself as Australia’s largest and most trusted directory that connects donors with causes. With this in mind, Pro Bono Australia is currently compiling a list of bushfire appeals, big and small, as a guide to the public in Australia and overseas. We are keen to include initiatives emerging from within bushfire-affected communities as well as registered charities. If you know a good cause that needs support, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org