Beware those taking when you do the giving: charity scams on the rise

Door-to-door, online and by phone: Charity scammers target generous Aussies

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Charity scams on the rise. Image Shutterstock.

Charity scams on the rise. Image Shutterstock.


Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission seeks to raise awareness of charity scams.


Australians are renowned for their generosity when it comes to a worthy cause.

But it's that's very willingness to put their hands in their pocket which has led many generous Aussies to be targeted by scammers.

Here are some examples.

One victim was phoned on their mobile by fake RFS collectors. Scam amount $50 plus identity information.

"They have my credit card details. They had my email address and have not sent supposed tickets to this email."

In another case with a loss amount of $5 cash.

"A person was going door to door asking for donations to the Animal Welfare Society of Western Australia. A subsequent check revealed there is no such charity. They gave a receipt which looked like a receipt book you can purchase from a news agent. The words Animal Welfare Society of Western Australia were stamped on the receipt. There were no details of an address or registered charities number."

During Scams Awareness week (August 17-21) the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission is seeking to raise awareness of charity scams.

ACNC Commissioner Gary Johns said the rise in charity scams was concerning with more than 1,000 charity scam reports since the beginning of this year.

"Unfortunately, in times of crisis there are people who will take advantage of Australians' generosity by impersonating charities," said Dr Johns.

ACNC Commissioner Gary Johns.

ACNC Commissioner Gary Johns.

Figures provided by Scamwatch show that reports of charity scams have increased significantly in 2020, up nearly 70% compared to the same period in 2019, driven mostly by charity frauds linked to the bushfire crisis.

From January 1 - July 31 Scamwatch received 1081 reports of charity scams, with losses of over $138,000.

Tips for safe giving

The ACNC regulates charities in Australia and charities must be registered with the ACNC to receive Commonwealth tax concessions.

  • If you want to donate to a cause, look for established and registered charities that are running verified appeals. Registered charities will appear on the ACNC Charity Register
  • If you receive a call from someone claiming to represent a charity, you can ask to call them back. Search for the charity on the register and use the phone number published there
  • Do not open suspicious or unsolicited emails - delete them
  • Always ask for identification from door-to-door and street fundraising collectors
  • If you think that there is something wrong, contact the charity directly and alert them of your concerns
  • Visit the Australian Government's Scamwatch website for a list of known scams and information on how to avoid scams.