Warning on holiday season charity scams

THE Office of Fair Trading is advising Queenslanders to be wary of charity scams and fake fundraisers.

Member for Ipswich Jennifer Howard urged consumers to do their homework before donating to help make sure the donations reached those most in need and not the pockets of scammers.

"The festive season brings out the generous nature in Queenslanders, but it also draws out those who would seek to profit at the expense of those less fortunate," Ms Howard said.

"By far the safest option is to pick a well-known charity and seek them out yourself to donate, rather than responding to requests to donate.

"That way, you know exactly where your donation is going.

"Look out for the warning signs and listen to your instincts. If something feels off, play it safe and donate elsewhere.

"Be conscious of online scammers who may set up false websites or social media accounts to collect money.

"Charity scammers have also been known to send spam emails and make unsolicited telephone calls to ask for donations."

The Office of Fair Trading recommends Queenslanders play it safe by following these tips:

* If a caller claims to be from a well-known charity or organisation, verify any information you're told by contacting the organisation directly yourself. Don't use any phone number or website you're given - look it up for yourself.

* Don't give your bank account details to anyone you don't know and trust. Only ever give your details if you initiated the call. If a person asks for confidential details, tell them you will call them back. Reputable organisations will have procedures in place to handle your call back.

* If you do want to donate to a specific charity or organisation, it is best to do so directly rather than through a third party. Look on their website or call for donation instructions.

Organisations that wish to publicly fundraise in Queensland must be registered with the Office of Fair Trading or authorised by a registered charity to act on their behalf.

A list of registered charities and more information on avoiding scams can be found at www.qld.gov.au/fairtrading.