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Commission issues advice to help older donors avoid fraud

Commission issues advice to help older donors avoid fraud

With HMRC data showing that 374,000 people over the age of 65 made donations in tax year 2017/18, totalling £1,092 million, the Charity Commission has issued advice to help older donors avoid falling victim to fraud.

The Charity Commission also cites recent findings from the Crime Survey for England and Wales, which show that almost 1 in 12 of respondents aged 65 and older reported being the victim of fraud in the last year: equivalent to more than 800,000 older people in England and Wales. Its own research from 2017 suggests just under a third of 65-74 year olds usually do checks on a charity before donating.

It has issued general giving advice, and specific tips for street fundraising, clothing collections, and online fundraising:


  • Check the charity’s name and registration number charities with an annual income of £5,000 or more must be registered.Ask the collector for more information if in doubt.
  • Ask the collector for more information if in doubt.
  • Never feel under pressure by a fundraiser into making a donation immediately.
  • Exercise the same caution every time you’re looking to support or donate to a charity.

Street fundraising and clothes collections

  • Check whether street collectors are wearing a proper ID badge and that any collection tin is sealed and undamaged.
  • Contact the charity that you’re seeking to donate to or work with to find out more about their spending.
  • Carefully review collection bags for clothing and household goods to ascertain whether they are from a genuine charity.
  • Check whether fundraising materials are genuine. They should feature the charity’s name, registered name and a landline contact number.

Online fundraising

  • Be careful when responding to emails or clicking on links within them.
  • Make sure the charity is genuine before sharing personal or financial information.

If someone thinks a collection or appeal is not legitimate, they are urged to report it to the police, and if they think a collector does not have a licence, to report it to the relevant Local Authority Licensing Team or the Metropolitan Police (if in Greater London), as well as to the charity if possible.

Sarah Atkinson, Director of Policy, Planning and Communications at the Charity Commission, said:

“Donating to charity is a longstanding and important tradition in this country, and I value the generosity of people who have worked hard all their lives wanting to give back.  It is vital that this generosity does not lead to people becoming victims of crime.

“The scams that we sometimes unfortunately see take advantage of people’s charitable spirit, and can seriously dent their trust in charity.

“Making simple checks before you hand over your money or your details is an important way to ensure you are giving with your head as well as your heart. I want to encourage everyone to follow our advice, so that they feel empowered and more confident at spotting and avoiding scams.”


Melanie May is a journalist and copywriter specialising in writing both for and about the charity and marketing services sectors since 2001. She can be reached via

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