Are you considering making an online donation to a non-governmental organisation (NGO) or a good cause?

Mercy Malaysia vice president II and legal consultant Datin Raja Riza Shazmin Raja Badrul Shah recommends that people conduct due diligence before making online donations.

People should start by checking the organisation’s status on the Registry of Societies Malaysia (ROS) website to ensure that it is legitimate, she advises.

“The ROS website has been updated and is easier to use now. Donors can also check if the organisation has tax exemption status with the Inland Revenue Board.

“Our online receipts include information like the ROS number and tax exemption status.

“We also publish our yearly report on the website, which includes our financial statements, for transparency,” she says.

Raja Riza Shazmin also encourages individuals to check if there are online reports of irregularities or fraud involving the company.

Sols 24/7, on the other hand, creates a personal online fundraising campaign page for its volunteers.

“They will get a unique link and only those with that link can help us raise funds.

“The link will direct users to our campaign page, giving them credibility,” says its senior manager for corporate social responsibility and fundraising, Alya Syahida Allias.

She says online fundraisers are not required to collect money in person and all payments will go directly into the company’s accounts.

Scammers often take advantage of people’s generosity during times of need by organising fake donation drives.

In December last year, Bukit Aman Commercial Crime Investigation Department (CCID) director Comm Datuk Mohd Kamarudin Md Din warned the public to be cautious when making donations to fundraising efforts to help flood victims.

Though no fraud reports had been lodged at the time, he felt that such donation drives would receive a positive response, and it was important to ensure the fake fundraisers didn’t divert funds from those in need. The police, he said, will be monitoring various donation drives, especially those conducted through the Internet.

In January, the police received two reports of fraudulent flood donation schemes in Temerloh, Pahang.

In the first incident, a man lodged a report claiming that his home address was used in a Facebook post to seek donations. The bank account included in the post was not his and his house was not affected by the floods.

In the other case, an NGO provided aid to a woman claiming to be a single mother of three, including food and cash totalling RM700.

However, further investigation revealed that the suspect had given a vacant home address and was not a flood victim.