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Fake bushfire appeal emails flagged: ACCC

Commission warns Australians to check the credentials of charities and delete unverified emails.

Scammers are targeting Australian households with emails asking people to donate to phony bushfire appeals, according to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).

An ACCC spokesperson warned that scammers have been known to take advantage of people’s generosity in the aftermath of disasters such as the Victorian bushfires of 2009.

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“If approached online, the person may be directed to a website that looks much like those operated by real charities, with official looking logos and information, but which in fact is subtly different,” the spokesperson said in a statement.

According to the ACCC, the online scammer will insist on payment by a money transfer service meaning that recovery of any money sent will be difficult.

“If you receive an email from an unverified sender, do not click on any links or open attachments and press delete,” said the spokesperson.

“Not only do these scams cost people money, they also divert much needed donations away from legitimate causes.”

However, Australians who do want to donate to a legitimate charity can check the organisation’s credentials at the Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits (ACNC) website.

The ACNC register contains details of all 56,000 registered charities in Australia and links to the Australian Business Register where consumers can check if a charity has deductible gift recipient (DGR) status.

“It is important to note that donations to a charity without DGR are not tax deductible,” said the ACCC spokesperson.

Follow Hamish Barwick on Twitter: @HamishBarwick

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU, or take part in the Computerworld conversation on LinkedIn: Computerworld Australia

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