Australians have dug deep to support our fire-ravaged communities - but sadly there have already been dozens of reports of “opportunistic” cons. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has warned generous Aussies to be on alert, having received reports of at least 47 bushfire-related scams since September 2019.
The problem is so widespread the ACCC is now encouraging the public to report dodgy fundraisers to the Scamwatch website. It has also set up a dedicated phone number for the public to report bushfire-related scams.
The body explained the situation in a statement released recently.
“There are currently a wide range of appeals raising funds for people and animals affected by the bushfires. Unfortunately, some of these are scams,” the statement reads.
“Scammers are pretending to be legitimate well-known charities, creating their own charity names, and impersonating people negatively impacted by the bushfires.
“Scammers are cold-calling, direct messaging and creating fake websites and pages on social media to raise funds.”
The types of issues that were being reported included crowd-funding pages impersonating charities, calls or websites impersonating charities and scammers impersonating relatives of victims and requesting money. Those wanting to donate to the cause are urged to protect themselves by following some simple tips:
Australians are advised not to donate via fundraising pages on platforms that do not verify the legitimacy of the fundraiser or do not guarantee your money will be returned if the page
It’s important to be careful about crowd-funding requests as these may be fake and also come from scammers.
Check the terms and conditions of funding platforms and ensure you are dealing with official organisations. If you are unsure, make your donation to an established charity instead.
The ACCC also said that if you are donating to an established charity or not-for-profit organisation, ensure it is registered and that you are on its official website by searching the Australia Charities and Not-for-profits Commission Charity Register.
And if you think you have paid money to a scammer, please contact your bank immediately.
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