Charity donation fraud

Charity donation frauds play on your sympathy by asking you to make a donation towards a group of people or a particular cause. In many cases, the donation request is linked to a high-profile event, such as an earthquake.

Charity donation frauds work in a number of ways. Here are some examples:

  • You receive an email asking you to make a donation to a charity. The email refers you to a website or phone number you can use to make a payment by credit or bank card
  • Someone approaches you in a public place or at your front door asking you to put money in a collection box
  • A collector drops an envelope through your door asking you to put money in it before coming back to collect it
  • A collector leaves a bag at your home asking you to fill it with clothes, toys or other household items for poor people, often overseas. Again, they return to collect your donation later.

Either the charity you are donating to does not exist or fraudsters are misusing the name of a genuine, often well-known charity and pocketing your money.

If you donate through a website, the fraudsters may record your credit or bank account details and use them to make purchases through your account.

If you are asked to call a phone number, it could be a premium rate number. This means the fraudsters will pocket even more of your money on top of your donation.

If you are asked to donate clothing or household items, the fraudsters will sell them on to make money rather than giving them to people in need.

How can I recognise a charity donation fraud?

It is important to note that genuine charities and fraudsters use the same methods to solicit donations. So, take care when trying to establish whether a fraud has actually taken place. Here are some signs to look for:

  • Genuine charities are registered with the Charity Commission and print their registration details on all documentation, collection bags, envelopes etc. Check these details exist and also contact the Charity Commission to confirm they are authentic
  • As well as identity documents, people collecting money for a genuine charity must carry documents from the charity confirming that they are collecting legitimately and detailing any restrictions. Ask to see these documents and check the details
  • If the collection is for a charity you know is genuine, check the collection is authorised by asking the charity directly using contact details from the phone book or a website you know is genuine
  • Watch out for poor grammar and spelling in emails and other documents, collection envelopes etc.

What should I do?

  • Report charity donation fraud to the Charity Commission
  • If the fraud is in the name of a genuine charity, let the charity know.

Reporting fraud

If you're a victim of fraud that is a crime in progress and you need an immediate police response dial 999.

If it is a non-emergency situation,

Call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.

You can also report fraud or find further advice and information on the Action Fraud website.

You should also report charity donation fraud to the Charity Commission.