Mayoral fund official avenue for Tathra bushfire financial donations

In the wake of disasters such as we’ve seen in Tathra this week, many in our community quickly turn their thoughts to how they can help.

Chief among those offers of support are financial donations to help locals affected get back on their feet in the days and weeks to come.

After Sunday’s devastating bushfire in Tathra, a variety of GoFundMe and similar campaigns popped up, some while the fires still burned out of control.

How do you know which are legitimate and safe to contribute towards?

Without casting any aspersions on the funds already set up, the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission Scamwatch service has the following advice.

Fake charities

Fake charities try to take advantage of your generosity and compassion for others in need. Scammers will steal your money by posing as a genuine charity. Not only do these scams cost you money, they also divert much needed donations away from legitimate charities and causes.

Fake charity approaches occur all year round and often take the form of a response to real disasters or emergencies, such as floods, cyclones, earthquakes and bushfires.

Scammers will pose as either agents of legitimate well-known charities or create their own charity name. They may also pose as individuals needing donations for health or other reasons.

Warning signs

You've never heard of the charity before, or it is well-known but you suspect the website, email or letter may be fake. A fake website may look almost identical to a legitimate charity site, changing only the details of where to send donations.

The person collecting donations on behalf of the charity does not have any identification. Remember, even if they do have identification, it could be forged or meaningless.

You are put under pressure or made to feel guilty or selfish if you don’t want to donate.

You are asked to provide a cash donation as they don't accept cheques. Or, they want the cheque to be made out to them rather than to the charity.

You are not given a receipt. Or, they give you a receipt that does not have the charity’s details on it.

Protect yourself

Approach charity organisations directly to make a donation or offer support.

Check the organisation's name and look them up. Check the website address to make sure it’s the same as what you searched for.

Legitimate charities are registered – you check an organisation’s credentials on the Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission (ACNC) website to see if they are a genuine charity.

Never send money or give personal information, credit card details or online account details to anyone you don’t know or trust.

If you are approached by a street collector, ask to see their identification. If you have any doubts about who they are, do not pay.

If you are approached in person, ask the collector for details about the charity such as its full name, address and how the proceeds will be used. If they become defensive and cannot answer your questions, close the door.

Avoid any arrangement with a stranger that asks for up-front payment via money order, wire transfer, international funds transfer, pre-loaded card or electronic currency, like Bitcoin. It is rare to recover money sent this way.

BVSC Mayoral Appeal Fund

At this stage, the official fund for people wishing to donate money is via the Bega Valley Shire Council’s Mayoral Appeal Fund.

Donations to the fund can be made by bank both transfer and credit card.

Bank transfer details

BSB: 012525

Account number: 837535154

Credit Card details

Phone (02) 6499 2345 during business hours (9am to 4.30pm)

Thank you to everyone who have donated goods to this point, however with community needs still being assessed it is important that further goods donations are made through charities (do not take donated goods to the evacuation centres).