(Australian Associated Press)


Phishing, hacking, malware tricks, remote access jigs. Ways for scammers to relieve Australians of their hard earned are seemingly limited by imagination alone.

But with Christmas just around the corner, the unscrupulous are honing their attention on how to target the kind-hearted, charity officials say.

The latest Scamwatch data reveals almost 700 reported cases of scammers posing as charitable organisations in just nine months.

Most commonly, they’ve done so by phone or email, while others have infiltrated social networking or other online forums and some still relied on the tried and trusted method of plying their deception in-person.

With almost a third of Australians willing to donate upwards of $3.75 billion to charities annually, the pickings are healthy.

It’s all too common for scammers to pose as a charity or claim to be collecting for one but donors need to beware, says Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commissioner Dr Gary Johns.

“As we emerge from lockdowns and head into the festive season, naturally we want to be generous and support Australian charities, especially after all they have done to help us get through the past couple of years,” he said.

“We know many Australians are still doing it tough and will turn to them for a Christmas lunch, food for the pantry or a gift for their child. They truly deserve our support.”

But before putting their hands in their pockets, Dr Johns says people should check the ACNC charity register.

It’s something more Australians are doing – five million times, in fact, over the past 12 months.

People are advised not to click on links in unsolicited emails and social media posts but rather find the charity’s website in a search engine or on the charity register.

Instead of accepting charity phone calls, people can also search the register and call back on the number shown there.