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VERIFY: How to make sure your Australia relief donation goes to a verified cause

If you want to donate to the Australian bushfire relief efforts, here are tips to avoid being scammed.

WASHINGTON — The stories about Australia’s bushfires are heartbreaking. Many people are looking for a way to help, but scammers are very aware, too. 

There are more than 3,000 GoFundMe campaigns alone, but they might not all be legit.

So, we’re going to show you how to choose a verified relief effort.

Anyone can start a fundraiser for just about anything. GoFundMe guarantees that if you donate to a fraudulent campaign, you’re eligible for a refund. But we still want to make sure you know the red flags to look for.

First, make sure to check how the campaign organizer is related to recipient. For example, we found several organizers raising money for a nonprofit, like the Australian Red Cross or Wildlife Information Rescue Education Services.

RELATED: Missing for Australian fires, Russell Crowe uses Golden Globes win to send powerful message

Credit: Gofundme

Instead, donate directly to the nonprofit, cutting out the middle man and avoiding any attempt of potential fraud.

Next, look to see what the purpose of the campaign is, and a plan for how the funds will be used. Be wary of any photos that show gruesome or emotional photos, but offer no clear plan.

Third, donors should check to see whether the recipient is in control of withdrawing the money. If there isn’t a clear path for the funds to reach those affected, you might want to rethink giving.

If you see a charity you haven’t heard of, make sure it’s an official nonprofit before donating. You can search Australia’s charity database at acnc.gov.au/charity 

"There are currently a wide range of appeals raising funds for people affected by bush fires," the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission said online, "Unfortunately, some of these are scams."

You can report a fake fundraiser to the ACCC through their website.

RELATED: How to help the victims, firefighters of the Australian bushfires

On social media, officials in New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland are directing donors to these vetted fundraisers:

Australian Red Cross Disaster Recovery and Relief 

Salvation Army Disaster Appeal

Gippsland Emergency Relief Fund



RSPCA New South Wales

Wildlife Information and Rescue Service

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