Following the 2022 flood events in NSW, there's been a spike in scammer activity targeting vulnerable people who have been affected by this natural disaster. We're going to take an in-depth look into what these scams are, what to look out for, and what to do to stay safe.

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What are these scams?

One scam that's been making the rounds involves scammers committing fraud and preying on the goodwill of people who want to help those who have been affected by natural disasters such as the 2022 NSW floods.

There have been reports of scammers dressing up as Rural Fire Service (RFS) and State Emergency Service (SES) workers and going around knocking on people's doors or phoning people up asking for donations. However, the RFS and SES DO NOT go around door knocking or call asking for donations. It's also important to note that official government assistance agencies DO NOT call or text asking for information.

Some scammers pretend to be authentic and well-known charities, or they may create their own "charity" and try to get donations from those trying to help. Some scammers may even impersonate disaster-affected people in order to receive donations and aid that they don't need.

Make sure to also stay vigilant and keep a lookout for fake tradespeople or repairers lurking around communities affected by a natural disaster. These people will target vulnerable people (via door knocking, cold calling out of the blue or leaving leaflets in mailboxes) and make bogus claims about offering a "today-only" repair deal or saying they can get repairs done far cheaper and quicker than legitimate companies.

What to keep an eye out for

There are a number of signs and red flags you can spot when it comes to these fraudsters and scammers who are door knocking and asking for donations:

  • The person collecting money does not have official identification. Workers door-knocking must carry official credentials and show them upon request.

    • Stay extra vigilant on this as even if the person does have identification, it could be forged.

  • The person is constantly pressuring or guilt-tripping you to make a donation.

  • You are specifically asked for cash donations as they don't accept cheques. Or, they want a cheque made out for them.

  • You do not get a receipt. Or, the receipt you get does not have the charity details on it.

What to do when encountering a scammer and how to stay safe

Should you encounter a suspected scammer, fake tradesperson or repairer, ask them to leave. If they, refuse call the police. Make sure you then report it to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC). If you need up-to-date information on the latest scams or support, head over to the Scamwatch website.

If you wish to donate to an established charity or not-for-profit organisation, make sure it is registered. You can do this by searching through the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission Charity Register. Make sure you also do a Google search of the charity to check it's legitimate and verify its details by contacting them directly.

Other safety tips to keep in mind:

  • Only donate to trusted well-known charities - Here's a list of legitimate charities from the NSW Government.

  • Never send personal details or banking details to anyone you don't know or trust.

  • Be careful about crowdfunding requests. These may be fake and could also come from scammers.

If you think you have paid money to a scammer, contact your bank immediately and the ACCC.

Related reading:

If you have any questions or need extra support, we're here to help you anytime in any language. Simply start a chat with us via the home screen of the Sonder app to connect to our team of qualified, caring health professionals.

Image credit: NSW SES Facebook

All content is created and published for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice. Always seek the guidance of a qualified health professional.

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