Charities at as much risk of ID theft as individuals, says online publication

A collaborative response to the threat is necessary, says Michelle Russell of the Charity Commission, which worked with an online security website on new guidance

Michelle Russell
Michelle Russell

Charities are as vulnerable as individuals to having their identities stolen, according to guidance from the Charity Commission and an online security website.

The guidance, which can be found online here, has been produced by the commission and Get Safe Online, an online security advice service supported by the government. "It is not uncommon for fraudsters to obtain money by setting up a hoax fundraising appeal in the name of an authentic charity," the guidance says. 

It advises trustees about how to avoid becoming the victim of online fraud, which includes having strong protected passwords and developing anti-fraud and whistleblowing policies.

The guidance says that trustees should look out for any unauthorised use of a charity's name or logo, and ask donors to report any fundraisers, fundraising literature or emails that appear suspicious. "If someone sets up a hoax charity in your name, it may be possible for you to seek an injunction to prevent them from fundraising," the guidance says.

Charities should also ensure that they have banking controls in place and check their accounts regularly to ensure that all transactions are legitimate. The commission recommends that charities use a dual-authorisation system for online banking, whereby one user submits a transaction and another user authorises it, the guidance says.

Michelle Russell, head of investigations and enforcement at the commission, said: "Online fraud is a common threat to charities and donors, and it needs a collaborative response from the sector as well as expert agencies. We have worked closely with Get Safe Online to produce this guidance and will continue to work in partnership with other bodies to tackle this issue effectively."

Get Safe Online and the commission have also produced guidance for donors about protecting themselves when giving to charities online.

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