It has been estimated that almost £350,000 of charitable donations last year ended up in the pockets of criminals.
Government recently issued advice to reduce this activity. They said:
The vast majority of fundraising appeals and collections are genuine, however criminals can set up fake charities, or even impersonate well-known charitable organisations, to deceive victims.
Action Fraud has teamed up with the Charity Commission, the regulator and registrars of charities, and the Fundraising Regulator, the independent regulator of charitable fundraising in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, to help the public make sure their donations go to the right place this Christmas.
Clearly, this bogus activity represents just a small proportion of overall donations made to reputable charities, but donors should be wary. Further advice to donors included in their press release says:
- Make sure the charity is genuine before giving any financial information. Look for the registered charity number on their website. You can check the charity name and registration number at www.gov.uk/checkcharity;
- You can also check if a charity is registered with the Fundraising Regulator. All charities registered here have made a commitment to good fundraising practice;
- If you’re approached by a collector on the street or at your door, ask to see the collector’s ID badge. You can also check whether the collector has a licence to fundraise with the local authority, or has the consent of the private site owner;
- Don’t click on the links or attachments in suspicious emails, and never respond to unsolicited messages and phone calls that ask for your personal or financial details – even if it’s in the name of a charity
- To donate online, type in the address of the charity website yourself rather than clicking on a link. If in any doubt, contact the charity directly about donating;
- Be cautious when donating to an online fundraising page. Fake fundraising pages will often be badly written or have spelling mistakes. When donating to an online fundraising page, only donate to fundraising pages created by someone you know and trust.
After making these checks, if you think that a fundraising appeal or collection is fake, report it to Action Fraud online or by calling 0300 123 2040.