Queenslanders are being warned to beware of fake appeals claiming to be collecting for victims of the ongoing bushfires. Donating to a registered charity is the best way to ensure your money reaches the people or cause you want to help. If you want to make a donation to a bushfire appeal, you can do a free online check to see if the organisation conducting the appeal is legitimate. Organisations wanting to publicly fundraise in Queensland must be registered with the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) or authorised by a registered charity to act on their behalf. Legitimate collectors will be able to identify themselves and give you details about the charity or the authorisation they hold to conduct the appeal.
Many of us are also seeing the devastation interstate and donating to relief efforts there through websites and social media. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has also issued a warning about fundraising scams associated with the bushfires and has set up a dedicated phone number for the public to report bushfire-related scams. To make a report call 1300 795 995. People can make a report on the Scamwatch website, or find more information about where to get help.
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. The National Bushfire Recovery Agency has published a list of registered charities that are running bushfire appeals. The list – jointly compiled by the Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission (ACNC), the Australian Taxation Office and Treasury – identifies credible bushfire appeals people can make tax deductible donations to.
Contact your bank immediately if you think you have paid money to a scammer.