RESIDENTS are being warned against donating to scam appeals for those affected by the Australian bushfires.

Essex Trading Standards is advising the public to be extra vigilant in response to reports of scammers pretending to be legitimate charities and cold-calling members of the public.

A spokesman said: "Do not donate via fundraising pages on platforms that do not verify the legitimacy of the fundraiser or that do not guarantee your money will be returned if the page is determined to be fraudulent.

"Be careful about crowdfunding requests as these may be fake and also come from scammers.

"Check the terms and conditions of funding platforms and ensure you are dealing with official organisations.

"If you are unsure, make your donation to an established charity instead.

Anyone who thinks they might have donated to a scammer should contact their bank immediately.