It’s the season for giving and Australians are particularly known to dig deep when it comes to helping those in need.

But Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commissioner Sue Woodward AM cautions that it is important to make sure you are giving to a real charity, not to a scammer.

The latest official data shows Australians lost $3.1 billion to scammers last year, and the national charity regulator is advising a simple check before donating.  

“Cyber-criminals are out there, trying to take advantage of our kind-heartedness and generosity, especially at this time of year,” Ms Woodward said.

“There were hundreds of reports of fake charity scams to Scamwatch, but we know it is likely that significantly under-represents the actual incidence.”

The ACNC recommends these simple precautions:

  • Don’t click on links in text messages, emails or social media posts.
  • Don’t tell callers you don’t know anything about yourself or give them your banking details.
  • Instead, go to the Charity Register.
  • Find contact information on the Register such its website.
  • Donate directly to the charity using the methods given on its website.

Ms Woodward said that there are 60,000 registered charities doing incredible work in remote communities, in regional areas, in big towns and cities.

“We depend on these organisations to look after people in need and, in turn, they depend on our support to keep delivering programs,” she said.

“When you donate to a registered charity, you can see key data such as its financial information, who is running it, how much it relies on volunteers and the kind of work it does.

“This provides transparency about where its funding comes from, and the way funds are used.

“You can be confident your donation is going to people in need, or to the particular cause you would like to support.”

Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commissioner Sue Woodward AM