Quick tips to avoid charity scams this Christmas – Jenny Willott MP

December 18, 2012 11:52 AM

Jenny Willott, MP for Cardiff Central, is warning people to check they are giving to a registered charity when approached for donations.

Christmas is a traditional time for giving and charities work hard to raise money during this time to fund their work. Almost half (44%)* of donors give directly to charity at Christmas time, giving an average of around £46 to the good causes they care about.

Almost all collections are genuine, but some people will try to abuse the generosity of others for their own gain. The Charity Commission, the independent regulator of charities in England and Wales, and Fundraising Standards Board (FRSB), the self-regulatory body for UK fundraising, have come together to highlight the risk of fraud to donors and charities alike, and to issue their tips for giving confidently this Christmas.

Jenny Willott MP says:

"It is wonderful that so many people wish to contribute to causes they care about, particularly at this time of year, and I certainly don't want to discourage this in any way.

"But unfortunately there are odd cases of fake charities taking advantage of the generosity of people, and so we do need to be careful to ensure that when someone does donate it is actually going to one of the many legitimate charities which really do need our support.

"Understandably lots of us don't always check whether a charity is registered when we are approached for a donation, but luckily the Charity Commission and the Fundraising Standards Board have come up with 10 easy tips to help you check that your money is going to a genuine good cause."

Alistair McLean, Chief Executive of the Fundraising Standards Board - the charity fundraising regulator across the UK, says:

"More and more public complaints reported to us at the FRSB question the legitimacy of fundraising appeals. Where charity fraud occurs, it not only diverts much-needed funds from the nation's charities, but it comes at an even greater cost of damaging public trust and future giving.

"Although charity fraud remains rare, it is essential that we all do what we can to make it increasingly difficult for criminals to cheat charities and their supporters in this way. And that simply means being aware and, if in doubt, making a few checks to ensure your money ends up where you want it to be. Above all, don't stop giving. Charities need your support now more than ever."

Follow these tips to avoid charity scams this Christmas:

  1. Before giving, check the charity's name and registration number. You can verify this at the Charity Commission's website at www.charitycommission.gov.uk.
  2. When approached by collectors, check whether they are wearing a proper ID badge and that any collection tin is sealed.
  3. If in doubt, ask the collector for more information - a genuine fundraiser should be happy to answer questions and explain more about the work of the charity.
  4. Genuine fundraising materials should feature the charity's name, registered name and a landline contact number. Be wary of those that list only a mobile number.
  5. Look for the FRSB tick logo indicating that the charity is signed up to fundraising regulation, encouraging you to give with confidence. www.givewithconfidence.org.uk
  6. To check whether a fundraiser is authorised to collect money in a public place, contact your local authority or, if in London, the police. If it is a private place, check with the owner.
  7. Take care when responding to emails or clicking links to a charity's website to ensure that they are genuine. Instead, search online for your favourite charity to check you have the right web address.
  8. Carefully review collection bags for clothing and household goods to ascertain whether they are from a genuine charity.
  9. After making these checks, if you think that a collection or appeal is not legitimate, report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 and inform the Charity Commission.
  10. If in any doubt, contact your favoured charity direct to make a donation.

What would you like to do next?