Queenslanders are being warned to beware of fake appeals claiming to be collecting for victims of the ongoing bushfires.
Acting Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Mark Ryan said scammers were known to take advantage of public generosity during and after disasters.
“Queenslanders are known for their generosity and it’s great to see so many people donating to charities to assist those affected by bushfires,” he said.
“Sadly, there are some heartless and unscrupulous swindlers out there abusing this goodwill and seeking to line their pockets from a national tragedy.
“Donating to a registered charity is the best way to ensure your money reaches the people or cause you want to help.
“If you want to make a donation to a bushfire appeal, you can do a free online check to see if the organisation conducting the appeal is legitimate.
“Organisations wanting to publicly fundraise in Queensland must be registered with the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) or authorised by a registered charity to act on their behalf.
“Legitimate collectors will be able to identify themselves, give you details about the charity or the authorisation they hold to conduct the appeal.”
Mr Ryan said greedy individuals hellbent on profiting from natural disasters used a range of tactics.
“You could be scammed at home, on the street or online – but there are ways to protect yourself and ensure your donation makes it to those who need it,” he said.
“Don’t give money to collectors who want cash only, won’t provide a receipt, or give a receipt that doesn’t display details of the appeal.
“Fake websites and shonky social media accounts are also happy hunting grounds for scammers.
“Crowdfunding appeals can be convincing because they play on people’s emotions, with some scammers even impersonating bushfire victims.
“We’re encouraging Queenslanders to support the bushfire appeals but to do their research first.
“If you think you’re being scammed, contact the OFT and report the scam.”
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has also set up a dedicated phone number for the public to report bushfire-related scams. To make a report call 1300 795 995.