Reassura: Guide to Charity Fraud

The amazing work that charities do makes an enormous difference to millions of people around the World every day. The British public is very good at helping those less fortunate and is often eager to give. Unfortunately, fraudsters see our giving to charity as just another source of income for themselves. According to a study conducted at The University of Portsmouth, in 2017, charities are losing £2.3 billion of their income to fraud each year.

Common Charity Frauds

Street Fundraiser Scam

Street charity collectors are not uncommon and are often genuine. However, some fraudsters will have a convincing set-up (fake collection buckets, pictures, promotional materials, and clipboards). Often the criminals will work in groups wearing the charity logo to appeal to the public. The criminal relies on passerby’s charitable nature, combine this with an emotive narrative of the charity and it’s easy to be deceived.

Online Charity Fraud

Criminals use the Internet to create bogus charity websites, mass emails and social media messages/posts. The receipt of unsolicited emails is a daily occurrence for everyone however the criminal will use this tactic convincing you to support a familiar charity online. The email will appear genuine and clicking the embedded links will take you to a different website used to defraud as you, enter your bank card details to donate. Similarly, social media posts may appear to be genuine with convincing photos of the people group the charity is supporting.

Crowd-funding giving is also on the increase, (GoFundMe or JustGiving) to mention a few, frequently these are genuine and very worthy causes and they provide opportunities to give directly to a person. However, fraudsters also do this with fake profiles/causes.

Doorstep Fraud

Many legitimate charities go door-to-door to collect donations. Some criminals seek to scam you into donating to bogus charities and organisations on your doorstep. When a humanitarian crisis occurs, criminals tend to be more active. Often the fraudsters will ask you to set-up a direct debit.

How to avoid charity fraud

  • Credentials? Ask for the permit, license or permissions that authorise the charity to collect donations. Does it look homemade?
  • Check First. Visit the Charity Commission for England and Wales to see if the charity is registered.
  • Identification? Is the person wearing an ID badge? Do they have in-depth knowledge of the charity they are representing?
  • Charity Number – Collection buckets and written materials should have the charities name and registration number visible (open containers or buckets are prohibited)
  • Pressure – Never feel pressured into making an urgent donation.
  • Consider – using a “no cold calling” sticker on your door. Legitimate charities will heed this warning. Be wary of other charities that disregard this sticker.
  • Is it secure? – When donating online check that the website is secure with https:// along with the padlock in the browser.
  • Crowd-Funding caution – If you don’t know them personally, exercise extreme caution.
  • Bin it – Avoid clicking on embedded links in emails and report unsolicited donation email requests to ActionFraud and delete them.
  • Delete – texts, emails and messages from orgnisations that you have no connections with
  • Use a Credit Card – when donating online
  • Direct Debit – Never reveal long card numbers, PINs or security codes. Only give account number and sort code when you are 100% sure the charity/collector is genuine.
  • Go direct– Contact the charity directly and ask them how you can support.
  • Learn More – checkout the excellent resources on the Fraud Advisory Panel website
  • Still unsure? – call Reassura 0800 888 6400 and one of our fraud advisors will support you to avoid becoming a victim of cryptocurrency fraud.


What to do if you suspect you have been a victim of Charity Fraud?

  • Contact ActionFraud to report the crime and get a Crime Reference Number.
  • If you have made any payment with your credit card contact your credit card provider’s fraud department.
  • If you paid by debit card, contact your bank.
  • Contact your bank immediately if you think you might have given your bank details to a bogus charity.
  • If you’re worried about identity fraud contact CIFAS


Reassura is dedicated to helping raise awareness of scams and fraud and the impact they have on their victims. Reassura’s team of specialist anti-fraud advisors are on-hand to offer advice designed to help individuals make better informed decisions and avoid the unpleasant consequences of becoming a victim. For further information visit: or call 0800 888 6400