Staying safe when making donations online

Posted by auDA on 26 November 2019

In times of crisis many of us want to do what we can to help. The bushfires throughout Australia are a recent example of a large event prompting the wider community to chip in to a relief effort.

Unfortunately, when events like these occur there’s often a spike in instances of people looking to take advantage of our generosity by posing as charities online and soliciting donations which never make it to the cause they’re claiming to support.

Giving online? Here’s how to avoid getting scammed

Check registrant details to ensure they match the charity’s details
If you’ve come across a website collecting donations that’s using a .au domain, you can perform a WHOIS search to see the publicly available registrant information. The information in the WHOIS output can be used to cross-reference the organisation against different databases.

Be wary of unusual payment methods
Scamwatch advises you to be wary of being asked to make payments via "money order, wire transfer, international funds transfer, pre-loaded card or electronic currency, like Bitcoin. Legitimate charities don’t solicit donations in this way.”

Approach organisations directly
If you’re unsure about the legitimacy of someone claiming to collect money on the behalf of a known charity or relief effort, donate directly to that charity.

What auDA is doing

auDA is currently monitoring registrations of new domains containing words related to the bushfires and the associated relief efforts.  If we find something that doesn’t stack up we’ll ask the registrar to validate the registrant’s eligibility to hold the domain name (known as a warranty check).

If you spot something that doesn’t look legitimate you can report it to Scamwatch.