Australian’s warned to remain vigilant after rise in flood charity and repair scams

Mar 07, 2022
"We are urging people to be on high alert to the possibility of scams and closely check that any websites or charitable organisations are legitimate before sending funds or your personal information." Source: Getty

ScamWatch and Westpac have warned of a disgusting new scam emulating charities, targetting bleeding hearts wanting to assist flood victims across flood-impacted Australia. Australians are allegedly falling victim to the convincing scams which pose as legitimate charities, collecting money for flood victims.

“With the current floods crisis, scammers will try to take advantage of Australians’ generosity and support by setting up fake donation sites, or even posing as insurers, businesses or government organisations offering help to the victims themselves,” said Chris Whittingham, Westpac’s General Manager of Fraud Prevention and Financial Crime.

“We are urging people to be on high alert to the possibility of scams and closely check that any websites or charitable organisations are legitimate before sending funds or your personal information.”

Criminals have allegedly launched numerous scams of this nature, playing on the kind hearts of Aussies.

“Time and time again, following a significant event or natural disaster, we see an increase in people being duped by scams, for example, after the devastating 2020 bushfires,” he said.

“This is a tactic fraudsters have continued to adopt throughout the pandemic where scams have almost tripled, exploiting the hearts and wallets of those experiencing hardship, or who have sought out items in high demand, like Rapid Antigen Tests.”

“Be wary of unexpected calls or emails. Be cautious of anyone claiming to be from a reputable organisation and stop to consider what they are asking for,” Westpac recommends.

“If in doubt, ask for a reference number and call back on a number publicly listed to confirm the call was genuine.”

“Act immediately. If you think you might have been scammed, stop all communication with the scammer and contact your bank immediately,” the big bank says.

“The sooner your bank is notified, the better chance at recovering any lost funds.”

Courier Mail reports that there are also scams from supposed tradesmen, offering their services to flood affected victims. Building Watchdog Commissioner Richard Cassidy refers all people to check the Queensland Building and Construction Commission’s website.

“Unfortunately, when disaster strikes, we often see unscrupulous people trying to take advantage of disaster victims,” Cassidy said.

“We see people offering to do building work and repairs when they’re not licensed to do so.”

“If you haven’t got insurance and someone turns up and says ‘I can fix your problem and do it right now’ and the price sounds reasonable, it is very tempting,” he said.

“If it’s building work, particularly if it is structural, you don’t get a licensed contractor they are so exposed as there is home warranty insurance for any work over $3,000 which protects the owner against defective work.”

“We have a ‘find a local contractor’ search function on our website, which includes only licensed tradespeople local to you.”

“QBCC officers will also soon begin patrolling parts of the flood-affected areas, undertaking licence checks and to ensure building work is being done in accordance with the relevant codes,” he said.

Have you seen these scams?

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