Top five ways to get prepared for Charity Fraud Awareness Week

This year’s annual event offers charities a raft of ways to help the sector protect themselves from criminals including the risks of cyber crime.

Joe Lepper | 15th Oct 19

Charities are increasingly being targeted by fraudsters, in particular through sophisticated cyber crime scams.

Last year’s Tackling Charity Fraud: Prevention is Better Than Cure report was among many recent wake up calls for those involved in charity security.

Shockingly, fraud costs the charity sector as much as £2.3bn, according to the report, which is by regulator The Charity Commission for England and Wales and the charity Fraud Advisory Panel.

The report also lists the wide range of cyber attacks being deployed by fraudsters. This includes Distributed Denial of Service attacks, when an online system is overwhelmed by bogus enquiries containing malware.

Dial through fraud, when a charity’s switchboard is hijacked to make people use expensive and fraudulent premium rate numbers, is another cyber crime risk.

There is also low-tech cyber crimes to watch out for, which use computers and IT systems to help enable forgery or theft.

Later this month the annual Charity Fraud Awareness Week (21-25 October) takes place to help charities better protect themselves from fraudsters.

Here is how charities can get involved.


1 – Understand how to protect yourself

Knowledge is power when it comes to tackling fraud.

As well as outlining the huge cost of fraud to charities, the Tackling Charity Fraud: Prevention is Better Than Cure report also outlines specific ways to stop fraudsters in their tracks.

Improving passwords is a simple but highly effective step charity workers can take. Too many people are not even changing their factory set passwords on their devices, says the report. A quick way to create a safe but memorable password, it states, is to think of a personal phrase, take the initial letter from each word, then add numbers and symbols.

Other top tips for combating cybercriminals are to keep anti-virus software up to date, use a firewall to block unauthorised access, use different passwords for online accounts, never click on attachments in unsolicited emails, install software updates and locking mobile devices.

Another piece of advice is to be careful what personal details are being revealed on social media.


2 – Register for the free Charity Fraud Awareness Hub

A raft of free digital resources to help charities better understand the mindset of fraudsters and how to beat them has been made available on the  Charity Fraud Awareness Hub, which has been compiled by Fraud Advisory Panel, the Charity Commission for England and Wales and UK Finance.

Charities are urged to register for free and gain access to materials including: helpsheets, case studies, webinars and tutorials.


3 – Take part in live webinar sessions

The webinar sessions available through the Charity Fraud Awareness Hub are an accessible way for charities to understand from security experts how to tackle criminals.

There are five webinars taking place on the campaign’s launch day (21 October). This includes ‘Protecting your people from harm’ chaired by Fraud Advisory Panel trustee Brendan Weekes and including among others Megahn Luther, GoFundMe’s Safety Lead.

Another on the day is Creating a Fraud Prevention Toolkit for your Charity, with speakers including Macmillan Cancer Support’s Counter Fraud Manager Robert Browell.


4 – Organise activities

Charities are being urged to support events taking place during Charity Fraud Awareness Week and organize their own activities.

This includes attending the week’s launch event Tackling Charity Fraud: Why It Matters, taking place from 9:15 to 12:00 in Central London. Full details have been made available within a supporters pack which can be downloaded from Fraud Advisory Panel.

This year’s campaign has daily themes, which can form the basis of events to be staged by charities to engage their staff and volunteers. Posters can be downloaded from the hub to promote these.

The themed days are:

  • Monday 21 October: Understanding charity fraud
  • Tuesday 22 October: Fundraising (donation) fraud
  • Wednesday 23 October: Cybercrime and cybersecurity
  • Thursday 24 October: Internal (insider) fraud
  • Friday 25 October: Keeping data safe

5 – Social media promotion

Those taking part in the campaign on social media are asked to use #CharityFraudOut. The supporters pack also offers advice on how to use social media accounts to promote the activity, this includes gif animation, images and banners to use online.

In addition it offers suggested social media content to use on each themed day of the campaign.