WA warned of fake bushfire charity scams, dodgy tradie deals

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Caitlyn RintoulThe West Australian
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As the smoke clears from WA bushfires, victims and generous West Aussies have been given a precautionary warning of charity scams and fake travelling tradies.
Camera IconAs the smoke clears from WA bushfires, victims and generous West Aussies have been given a precautionary warning of charity scams and fake travelling tradies. Credit: Simon Santi/The West Australian

As the smoke clears from WA bushfires, victims and generous West Aussies have been given a precautionary warning of charity scams and fake travelling tradies.

Fake donation accounts were flagged as an issue in the wake of last year’s Wooroloo, prompting Consumer Protection to issue an early warning on the growing trend during emergencies.

Commissioner Gary Newcombe said while they were yet to receive reports of dodgy activity after WA’s horror week of infernos, he was expecting it for bushfire-ravaged communities.

He claimed “it’s common in circumstances like these” for fake door-to-door tradie deals and unofficial charity accounts to arise.

A plume of smoke during the Denmark bushfire.
Camera IconA plume of smoke during the Denmark bushfire. Credit: Steve Baker

So far, more than 65,000ha in the Wheatbelt, South West and Great Southern has perished in blazes.

More than 1000 firefighters have battled the four bushfires across Wickipin, Denmark, Bridgetown and Corrigin.

“We ask people in the bushfire-affected areas to be wary of fake or unlicensed tradies who often target areas after a disaster by going door-to-door, offering cheap deals,” Mr Newcombe said.

“Say no to unsolicited approaches and be wary of tradies who go by a first name and mobile phone number only.”

Top tips are to check the tradesman’s license and credential.

Bushfire near Bridgetown, WA.

Premier Mark McGowan at the Bridgetown Sports Oval, DFES control point.
Camera IconPremier Mark McGowan at the Bridgetown Sports Oval, DFES control point. Credit: Simon Santi/The West Australian

“Ask for proof of credentials, such as a licence for plumbers or electricians, or evidence of an industry association membership. Also make sure to check with your insurer before authorising any work,” he said.

“Consumers approached in this way are entitled to a ten day cooling off period, so no money should change hands and no work carried out during this time.”

People are urged to avoid fake GofundMe accounts and not to respond to random emails or texts with links that may be from scammers impersonating established charities.

Scam information is available on the WA ScamNet website and enquiries by email consumer@dmirs.wa.gov.au or phone 1300 30 40 54.

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