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Bogus charity collections

Many people find donating old clothes and goods to charities a good method of clearing out their cupboards and making space. Charities often make use of doorstep collections to gather donations directly from people’s homes. However, some of these charity collections are bogus.

It is estimated by the Association of Charity Shops that the potential value of donated clothing and other items ‘lost’ to legitimate charities as a result of these bogus collections amounts to over £1m per annum. Many genuine charities rely on such doorstep collections for a substantial proportion of their shop sales.

Typically, householders receive flyers through their letterboxes appealing for donations of unwanted clothes, footwear and sometimes other household and electrical items, to be distributed to poor individuals and families in Eastern European or third world countries. Householders are asked to leave the goods in a plastic bag by the front door. These are later collected anonymously.

The flyers give the misleading impression that the items are being collected for charitable purposes. In reality, the collections seem to be organised by commercial operators who sell the donated items for profit. The misleading impression is in some instances reinforced by a reference to a registration number, which people may think is that of a Registered Charity but is in fact a limited company number.

If you have any doubts about a leaflet asking for donations, you can:

  • Contact the Charity Commission helpline on 0845 300 0218 to check whether the collection is for, or on behalf of, a registered charity.
  • Consumers in Scotland should contact the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR) on 01382 220446 or check the OSCR website for further information.
  • Contact your local authority to see if the collector has been licensed.
  • Give direct to a local charity shop instead or donate to a charity shop collection sack. These should make clear reference to the charity registration number and many will also carry the Association of Charity Shops Kitemark.

For more information you can download an advice leaflet here: Bogus charities advice

If you think you have been a victim of this scam call Consumer Direct for advice on 08454 040506

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