It comes amid reports of scammers targeting vulnerable people, for example by posing as fundraisers collecting money for charity, who are diverting vital funds away from genuine causes.
Action Fraud and Trading Standards have received reports of fraudsters seeking to exploit the pandemic by targeting vulnerable people, for example posing as charity volunteers offering to help with shopping, offering fake virus testing, or claiming to be raising funds for charity.
There are simple ways of making sure you give safely to registered charities:
Commenting on the appeal, Councillor Jim McMahon, Cabinet member for Safer Communities, East Ayrshire Council said: “We have no hesitation in endorsing this national call from Trading Standards. It’s a two-fold issue. Right at the time when the demands on many of our charities are running higher than ever, many of the fund raising events on which they depend have been cancelled and everyone is rightly concerned about spending in these challenging times. So we’d encourage everyone who can to think about making donations if possible to help support the vital work of so many worthwhile charities.
“Sadly at the same time however, we’re urging everyone to be very careful about who they donate to and how. These guidelines are a huge help, making sure everyone knows what to look for and how to keep themselves safe from scammers. Charities desperately need us to keep contributing just now, but please, if you’re giving, make sure it’s safe giving.”
Baroness Tina Stowell, Chair of the Charity Commission, said:
“British people have a proud tradition of charitable giving and generosity, and this pandemic is already giving rise to that spirit of charity and community that brings people together. We want to ensure that people do so safely and in the most effective way possible so that people in need get help. We encourage everyone wanting to donate money to follow our simple steps to check that they are donating to a registered charity. By giving to a registered charity, the public can have assurance that their funds are regulated by the Charity Commission.
Lord Toby Harris, Chair of the Fundraising Regulator, said:
“Charities are a lifeline to many local communities and play a vital role in supporting people across the UK, particularly at a time of national crisis. In what is the most significant public health emergency in generations, we encourage the public to continue to give generously throughout these difficult times. Unfortunately, we have heard of some individuals who have used the Coronavirus outbreak as a means of defrauding the public, so we urge you to check that an organisation is legitimate before you give to it. For more helpful advice on giving to charity safely, please read our guidance here.”
Louise Baxter, Head of the National Trading Standards Scams Team, said:
“As people stay indoors to prevent the spread of COVID-19, criminals are preying on people in vulnerable situations who are isolated and living alone. The criminals often claim to represent charities to help them appear legitimate before taking the victim’s money. There are genuine charities providing support, so consumers should be vigilant and ask for ID from anyone claiming to represent a charity.
“There’s never been a more important time for neighbours to look out for each other – particularly as we self-isolate – which is why we’re encouraging communities to prevent scams in their local area by using the free Friends Against Scams resources. Our online courses will help you spot a potential scam, identify people at risk and help you protect local residents from falling victims to scams. We’re urging communities to protect each other from scams and encourage people to share the latest advice with families, friends and neighbours.”