A scam capitalising on a natural disaster is doing the rounds. Here’s how to avoid getting caught out.

The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) and State Emergency Service (SES) are warning Queenslanders not to be duped by cold call scammers out to rip-off donations intended for Tropical Cyclone Marcia victims.

Fair Trading Executive Director Brian Bauer said a report had been received from a Morayfield resident who received a call from a person pretending to be from the SES, seeking donations for the cyclone recovery effort.

“The scammer asked for a direct deposit donation and personal information including the resident’s bank details, but fortunately the resident was wise to the scam and hung up,” Mr Bauer said.“The generous nature of Queenslanders makes them a target for scammers, particularly after natural disasters.

“Using the name of a highly reputable and recognisable organisation is all part of the scam.”

SES Acting Assistant Commissioner Peter Jeffrey said the SES did not seek donations by cold calling.

“SES sponsored fundraising events, like BBQs and raffles, are the best way to donate to your local SES group, and you can also donate via the details on the SES website,” Mr Jeffrey said. “Donated money goes toward equipping the volunteers who respond to emergency situations in our local communities.”

Queenslanders can avoid cold call scams by following these tips:

• If a caller claims to be from a well-known charity or organisation, verify any information you’re told by contacting the organisation directly yourself. Don’t use any phone number or website you’re given – look it up for yourself.
• Don’t give your bank account details to anyone you don’t know and trust. Only ever give your details if you initiated the call. If a person asks for confidential details, tell them you will call them back. Reputable organisations and banks have procedures in place to handle your call back.
• If you do want to donate to a specific charity or organisation, it is best to do so directly rather than through a third party. Look on their website or call for donation instructions.

More information on avoiding scams is available from www.qld.gov.au/fairtrading.