In the wake of a disaster, the Aussie spirit and neighbourly kindness that sees many people offer a helping hand to their local community, can often become a target for scammers.

In amongst all the legitimate charities and organisations providing financial aid, there are many scammers posing as non-for-profit groups, seeking to take advantage of peoples heightened generosity.

It's not only fake donation sites and relief funds that scammers will attempt to dupe people with, but victims themselves can be targeted by scammers claiming to be from an insurance company or a branch of government offering direct assistance.

There are a number of tips and steps you can take to avoid being scammed.

Common warning signs include:

  • If you've never heard of the charity before, or if it sounds like a charity you know, but there is a slight change to the name 
  • If they do not provide you with a receipt or there is no charity name on the receipt
  • They pressure you into donating or make you feel guilty

Tips to protect yourself:

  • Genuine charities are registered – you can check an organisation's credentials on the Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission (ACNC) website
  • Approach a charity directly if you wish to donate, rather than donating to a person who has contacted you through phone, text or email
  • Never send money or provide personal details including credit card information to anyone you don't know
  • Never click on suspicious links or attachments in text messages or emails. If in doubt, do an online search of the phone number to see if it has been reported as a scam
  • Lastly, be aware that scams exist. While no one would like to think they would fall for a scam, almost 40,000 scams have been reported and over $72,000 lost as of March 2022, according to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission's Scamwatch

If you've sent money or shared your banking details with a scammer, contact your financial institution immediately. They may be able to stop a transaction, or close your account if the scammer has your account details. You can also report scams to the ACCC via the Report a scam webpage.

This information provides general advice only.

Published: Monday, 21 Mar 2022