Beware of fake charities

2 October 2013

SCAMwatch and the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) are reminding people to beware of scammers pretending to represent a charity or not-for-profit organisation.

How these scams work

  • Fake charities operate in a number of different ways:
    1. You may be approached on the street or in your home by people collecting money.
    2. Some scammers may call you or email you with emails requesting donations.
    3. Scammers may also set up fake websites which look similar to those operated by real charities.
  • Scammers may also play on your emotions, for example by claiming to help children who are ill.
  • Fake charities occur all year round but are also created directly in response to disasters, such as floods, cyclones, earthquakes and bushfires.

Protect yourself

  • Approach charity organisations directly to make a donation or offer support.
  • If you are approached out of the blue by a collector:
    1. Ask to see their identification.
    2. Check the ACNC register to find out whether the charity is listed. To be registered as a charity and appear on the Register, organisations must meet the legal meaning of being a charity, and other requirements of the ACNC Act.
    3. Call the charity to verify that the person represents their organisation
  • 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.
  • Don't open suspicious or unsolicited emails (spam)—delete them.
  • Where possible, avoid any arrangement with a stranger who asks for up-front payment via money order, wire transfer or international funds transfer. It is rare to recover money sent this way.
  • If you think you have provided your account details to a scammer, contact your bank or financial institution immediately.


If you think you’ve spotted a scam, report a scam to SCAMwatch. You should also spread the word to your friends and family to protect them.

More information

For more information on how these scams work, check out the charity scams section on SCAMwatch.

SCAMwatch has previously issued the following radars on charity scams:

View the ACNC video ‘Protect yourself from charity scams’.

Stay one step ahead of scammers, follow @SCAMwatch_gov on Twitter or visit .

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