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Consumer & Business Advice
Media releases
3 December 2015

Generous South Australians are being reminded there are some quick and easy steps they can take to ensure their donations to those affected by the recent Pinery bushfire are not subject to scams.

Minister for Business Services and Consumers Gail Gago said the Pinery bushfire, which tore through more than 82,000 hectares of land in the Mid-North, has affected thousands of people with devastating consequences.

“Approximately 87 homes have been destroyed, along with hundreds of sheds and outbuildings, vehicles and farm machinery,” Ms Gago said

“Whilst many legitimate charities exist, scammers have occasionally taken advantage of the public’s generosity and kindness in a time of crisis.

“South Australia has excellent safeguards regulating charities.”
Here are a few of the ways people can ensure their generosity is well targeted:

•    Charities must be licenced, check the licence register here online.
•    Avoid dealing with an unfamiliar company, especially if you can’t check on their background or record;
•    Be wary of anyone who arrives uninvited at the door without legitimate ID, or who contacts you out of the blue;
•    Never give out your bank account or credit card information unless you can check you are dealing with someone legitimate;
•    Walk away or hang up if you feel you are being pressured.

“As with the Sampson Flat fires earlier this year, it is remarkable to see that so many South Australians have rallied together and reached out to victims of the fires - some who have lost everything,” Ms Gago said.

“Whilst many legitimate charities exist, scammers have occasionally taken advantage of the public’s generosity and kindness in a time of crisis.”

State Duty Officer for the SES Ian Bonython confirmed there had been an individual calling himself ‘John from the SES’ canvassing for phone donations, misrepresenting himself as an SES volunteer.
“The SES does not actively seek donations in any way, and it is not conducting a phone collection for the Pinery bushfire recovery. If this happens to people we would advise them to just hang up” Mr Bonython said.

Ms Gago said it was important to ensure people’s goodwill was not being exploited, and reminded people to check the legitimacy of charities and be beware of door-knockers and those calling seeking cash donations.

Many community groups and organisations are providing a variety of services to aid with the fire recovery. However in some cases, scammers have sought cash, often claiming they represent a reputable organisation or even a government agency - this can either be in-person, by email or over the phone.

Ms Gago said fake fundraisers or charity scams may also set up false websites which look similar to those operated by real charities or organisations.

“CFS stations and relief centres don’t currently have the capacity to deal with donations.”

St Vincent de Paul has been appointed to manage any goods donated during this disaster and can be contacted on 8112 8777.

Anyone who is approached directly for donations should contact CBS on 131 882. For more information on how to avoid fake fundraising please visit the CBS website.