Warning: Look Out For Scammers In The Cyclone Debbie Aftermath

Image: iStock

Times of natural disaster can unfortunately attract scammers - and the ACMA has identified scams with people posing charity or relief organisations.

Rather than be discouraged from helping altogether, a little education goes a long way. Here's some tips to make sure your dollars go to the right place.

Keep an eye out for:

  • Messages which come from, or contain, unknown or unusual email addresses and telephone numbers, or link to websites with unusual URLs (scammers sometimes register domain and email addresses that look almost the same as a genuine site/address, for example, just adding an additional letter or a number)
  • Spelling errors and poor grammar
  • If you receive a call, ask for clear information about the organisation the caller is calling from, and verify the details before proceeding
  • Be wary of requests to wire money or donate by money transfer

The ACMA says if you'd like to make a donation, always verify the details of the organisation against publicly available information before providing your personal details and making payment. If there is any doubt about an email, don't click links or open attachments - just delete it. And if you are concerned about charity telemarketing, ask for verification details. If they are not provided, end the call.

The Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission Commissioner, Susan Pascoe, said Australians who wanted to help can find local charities that are ready to assist on the Charity Register.

Pascoe says the best way to check if a charity is registered is to search the Charity Register, which provides information on over 54,000 charities - including who the beneficiaries of the charity are and locations where the charity operates.

The ACNC also has the following tips:

  • Always ask for identification from door to door and street fundraising collectors
  • If you haven’t heard of an organisation, look them up on the Charity Register to see if they are registered
  • Do not provide your personal, credit card or online account details unless you know it is a trusted source
  • Do not open suspicious or unsolicited emails - delete them
  • If you think that there is something wrong, contact the charity directly and alert them of your concerns
  • Visit the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission's SCAMwatch website for information about the latest scams
  • The Queensland Government has also released information on volunteering and helping

Social media messages, emails, SMS or telemarketing calls which appear to be scams can be reported to Scamwatch. You can also report SMS to the ACMA's Spam SMS service on 0429 999 888, or emails to [email protected]

If you have been the victim of a scam, report it to the police via the Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network at www.acorn.gov.au. For more information please contact: Emma Rossi, Media Manager, (02) 9334 7719, 0434 652 063 or [email protected]