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Charity donation fraud

What it is

When fake charity collectors prey on your sympathy by asking you to make a donation to a worthy cause.

Protect yourself

  • Charities always need to be registered and have a license if they’re collecting in a public place. Check they’re authentic with the Charity Commission.
  • If the charity is genuine, check the collection is authorised, too. Call the charity directly or look them up using a phone book or a website (don’t accept websites or numbers provided by a collector).
  • If in doubt, tell the collector you’ll donate directly to the charity yourself .

Spot the signs

  • Their promotional material or website is badly written or has spelling mistakes.
  • The collector is aggressive or intimidating, or uses excuses to explain why their collection is legitimate, such as showing fake ID or falsified documents.
  • They’re using topical events, such as a natural disaster, to make it look like their charity has been created only recently in response.

How it happens

A fraudster will either pose as a collector for a charity they’ve made up, or they misuse the name of a genuine, often well-known, charity. They may be collecting sponsorship money for an event that they won't take part in or doesn't even exist. In any of these cases, the money you donate doesn’t go to charity; the fraudsters keep it for themselves.

You may be given the address of a fake website, where the fraudsters record your credit or bank account details when you go to a donation page.

Alternatively you may be asked to call a phone number. It could be a premium rate number, taking even more of your money on top of your donation.

If you’re asked to donate clothing or household items, fraudsters sell them on but keep the money rather than giving it to people in need.

How to report it

Report it to us online or call 0300 123 2040.