Fundraising scams – disaster advice

We can help with fundraising issues in a disaster, such as a storm, flood, bushfire or earthquake.

Watch out for fake fundraisers

When donating money to help people affected by this disaster, make sure you are dealing with a legitimate fundraiser.

Fake fundraisers, also known as charity scams, have taken advantage of public generosity after past disasters.

How charity scams work

They may:

  • approach you on the street or in your home, pretending to collect for a legitimate charity
  • set up false websites or send letters similar to those used by real charities
  • use unsolicited telephone calls or emails to ask for donations.

Warning signs

  • You receive an email asking for donations.
  • A collector makes a face-to-face approach but does not have any identification or has fake identification.
  • The collector cannot or will not give you details about the charity, such as its full name, address or phone number.
  • The collector becomes defensive when asked what the charity does and how much of the donation gets taken up by costs. 
  • The collector asks for cash, will not accept a cheque or asks for any cheque to be made out to them rather than to the charity.
  • Illegitimate online collectors will insist on payment by money transfer.
  • The collector does not want to provide a receipt or the receipt does not have the charity’s details on it.

Report fake fundraisers

Protect others and help make sure donations go to legitimate charities and causes. Promptly report fake fundraisers via our Report a scam page.

If you want to donate

  • Donate to established relief organisations with a strong record in providing aid. Be wary of giving money to an unfamiliar charity.
  • Approach charity organisations directly to make a donation. Ring the fundraiser’s hotline if you want to donate over the phone. Never use a phone number or website address given by a person who first called, visited or emailed you.
  • Do not use links to websites provided in emails. If you want to donate online, it is safer to search for the charity’s official website using a search engine – websites set up by scammers are less likely to rank highly.
  • Never respond to an unsolicited email asking for donations - even if it claims to represent a reputable fundraiser or seems legitimate.
  • Only hand over money to someone wearing proper identification and always ask for a receipt. If they are not wearing identification, ask to see it. Make sure collection tins or containers are sealed and clearly labelled with the fundraiser’s logo.
  • Never give out your personal, credit card or online account details unless you initiated contact and it is a trusted source. If you are still unsure, ask the fundraiser if you can donate at a local bank.
  • Legitimate fundraisers are registered by Consumer Affairs Victoria. To check, view our fundraising public register.
  • If the charity is well known but you are suspicious of a collector in your area, contact the charity and ask if they are aware of the collector.

Setting up an emergency fundraising appeal

To set up as a fundraiser, you must first register with Consumer Affairs Victoria. It usually takes 28 days to complete your registration, providing you meet the requirements and supply all the information requested on the application form.

Urgent applications may be processed in less time in special circumstances. You must complete an Application for fundraiser registration (PDF, 351KB) and provide a statement telling us why your application is urgent.

For more information, view our Register as a fundraiser page.

Last updated: 28/06/2016

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