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Read our guidance on how to protect your business from fraud and cybercrime, for more information on frauds affecting organisations more generally.

Credit card (donation)

Credit card fraud occurs when a fraudster uses stolen or cloned credit cards to make small donations to a charity (or multiple charities) either online or over the phone, to see whether the card has been blocked or cancelled. If the transactions are successful, the fraudster begins to use the card more widely to purchase goods.

Tips to protect your charity

  • Monitor donations made using a credit card either over the phone or online. Watch for unusual transactions (such as small ‘token’ donations for £1 or £2) or patterns of transactions (such as a large number of small donations in quick succession).
  • Make sure that the name of the cardholder matches the name of the donor.
  • Follow best practice guidance issued by your payment service provider on accepting card-not-present transactions. Look into additional security measures to protect against card-not-present fraud.

Read our factsheet on e-commerce risks to online retailers for more general information on credit card fraud.


Fundraising fraud (also called charity collection fraud) occurs when a fraudster fundraises on behalf of a genuine charity but keeps some or all of the money. These collections usually take place in public places or house to house.

Tips to protect your charity

  • Inform members of the public where you will be collecting and when, and (if applicable) what branded clothing legitimate collectors will wear.
  • Encourage donors to check the credentials of collectors when they are approached for donations.
  • Provide donors with information on other ways to give to your charity. We have produced guidance for UK-based donors on how to give safely on the street, on the doorstep and online.

    Online impersonation

    Online impersonation fraud occurs when a fraudster pretends to be a genuine charity by setting up a copycat website or email address to fool potential donors and divert funds from legitimate good causes. These scams often appear in the wake of natural disasters or humanitarian crises.

    Tips to protect your charity

    • Provide an email address for donors to report suspicious websites and/or possible email scams that claim to be your charity.
    • Put an alert on your website about any known scams to warn donors and customers, and to prevent others from being defrauded.
    • Report bogus websites and/or emails to the relevant internet service provider (ISP) and to the police.

Staff and volunteer

Staff and volunteer fraud occurs when a fraudster who is involved in the charity exploits systems, policies and procedures for their own financial gain. About half of all frauds against organisations (including charities) are committed by someone on the inside.

Tips to protect your charity

  • Conduct basic screening of new candidates by checking original identity documents, qualifications and work history, and taking up references.
  • Check on staff periodically during their employment.
  • Treat staff well and consider ways to help support staff who are in financial difficulty or who may have drug or alcohol problems.

Read our guidance on pre-employment screening for more information