Scammers may target Cyclone Debbie relief appeals | ACMA


03 April, 2017 02:48 PM


Scammers may target Cyclone Debbie relief appeals

By Editor

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Natural disasters can and do cause serious harm to people and property, and safety and recovery support are paramount concerns. Unfortunately scammers use natural disasters to target well-intentioned people who want to help those in need. Through our anti-spam and telemarketing safeguards work, the ACMA has identified scams in the past in which scammers pose as charity or relief organisations.

People should not be discouraged from making donations and providing support for genuine and worthy causes. However, it’s important that support goes to legitimate charities and support organisations, and not the scammers! We strongly urge people to be cautious about unsolicited approaches (via phone, SMS, email or social media) from people purporting to be from charities or relief organisations. Make sure they are legitimate.

The Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission has just released some advice to help you donate with confidence.

What to look for

  • Scammers are getting more sophisticated: they can create social media posts, emails and websites that look very similar to those of genuine organisations. So beware of messages which come from, or contain, unknown or unusual email addresses and telephone numbers, or link to websites with unusual URLs (scammers sometimes register domain and email addresses that look almost the same as a genuine site/address, for example, just adding an additional letter or a number).
  • Many scams contain spelling errors and poor grammar.
  • If you receive a call, ask for clear information about the organisation the caller is calling from, and verify the details before proceeding.
  • Be wary of requests to wire money or donate by money transfer.

If you:

  • wish to make a donation, verify the details of the organisation against publicly available information before providing your personal details and making payment
  • are in doubt about an email, don’t click links or open attachments, and delete it
  • are concerned about charity telemarketing, ask for verification details. If they are not provided, end the call
  • receive a social media message, email, SMS or telemarketing call which appears to be a scam, you can report it to Scamwatch. You can also report SMS to the ACMA's Spam SMS service on 0429 999 888, or emails to
  • have been the victim of a scam, report it to the police via the Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network at