October 25th 2017
As well as being Get Safe Online Week, this is Charity Fraud Awareness Week, designed to encourage donors to get into safe habits when it comes to giving to their chosen good causes, and for everybody involved in the charity and voluntary sectors to look out, listen out and speak out against fraud.
You can join the conversation on Twitter at https://twitter.com/fraud_panel with the hashtag #charityfraudout
Charities and voluntary organisations do vital work in housing the vulnerable, feeding the hungry, protecting the natural world, alleviating suffering and many other very worthy causes. To many charities, donations from the general public and businesses are the sole source of income.
This is why it is essential that our donations really reach the causes we support, but sadly, this is not always the case. Whilst most fundraising is genuine, some collections and appeals are fraudulent. One of the easiest ways for criminals to perpetrate charity fraud is online, owing to the number of people they can reach at any one time, the ease and speed of donating online, the authentic nature of appeals that they can create, and the relative anonymity on the internet (or by text messaging, social media or phone call). In the UK, charity fraud is estimated to cost as much as £2 billion a year, with 800 cases reported to the police last year.
Expert tips to protect yourself from charity fraud
The Fraud Advisory Panel – which works closely with the Charity Commission and is a key member of the Charities Against Fraud Group – has put together some top tips to protect people from being defrauded whilst donating online:
First of all:
· Double-check that you are donating to a registered charity.
· Never feel under pressure to make an urgent donation.
· If in doubt, contact the charity directly. Ask about other ways to give. Any genuine charity will be happy to help.
· To donate to your chosen charity, visit its website. To make sure this is authentic, always type the full address into the browser. Find the correct web address by searching online or giving them a call.
· Check for a padlock symbol in the URL bar and that the web address begins ‘https’ (not ‘http’) – the ‘s’ stands for ‘secure’.
· Never respond to unsolicited emails, texts or social media messages/posts from any charity you have never heard of. And never click on any links. Report the message and then delete it. Be especially cautious when a new disaster or emergency is making headlines.
· Be especially careful supporting someone via a charity crowd-funding site (like JustGiving, GoFundMe or Virgin Money Giving) if you don’t know them personally.
· Make sure you are completely satisfied that a charity is genuine before divulging personal financial information. Contact your bank immediately if you think you may have given your bank details to an imposter or bogus charity.
Please do not be put off and stop giving to charity, but do follow these tips so we can all play our part in keeping charity fraud out and helping charitable and voluntary organisations do their great work.