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Bogus charity collections

Many of the clothing collections throughout the Borough may not be what they seem.

bogus leaflets

Once again, Trading Standards Officers at Hillingdon Council are having to warn residents to be on their guard as the number of "charity" clothing collections and bogus competitions across the borough increases.

Residents are advised to check whether a clothing collection is for charity before they donate their unwanted items. Some leaflets distributed to households are from genuine registered charities. However, many are not. At a glance, these leaflets look like they have come from a charity, but are actually from a company that profits from collections.

In summary, however, the things to look for include:

  • Does the sack or leaflet say the collection is for a registered charity? If so, what's the registered charity number? Residents can call the Charity Commission on 0300 0669197 to check whether a charity number is genuine;
  • Does the sack or leaflet only give a registered company number? This just means the organisation is registered with Companies House;
  • Is the charity actually named? Be wary of wording that just says "families in need" or "for breast cancer prevention programme";
  • Does the leaflet or bag give a phone number? The absence of a phone number may mean the collectors don't want to answer questions.

Residents can obtain further advice from Citizens Advice on 03454 040506.

Charity collection cons

If you are approached by somebody collecting for charity, and you're not sure whether they are genuine or not, the www.charitycommission.gov.uk/ Safer Giving code provides some tips that may help you feel more comfortable about giving.

The Charity Commission strongly recommends that all collectors should:

  • be able to produce a valid local authority or police licence;
  • wear an ID badge (donors should look out for any ID that looks altered, photocopied or home-made);
  • have a sealed collection container with the charity's registration number and name on it - does it match the details on their ID badge? Collectors should also be able to tell you how to contact the charity direct;
  • be able to prove that they have the charity's permission to collect. Collectors from professional fundraising companies must, by law, declare how much of the donation they will be paid, and they should be able to produce a copy of a written agreement with the charity. Thank-you letters and receipts from charities don't count as permission to contact; 

If you are still doubtful about the collector:

  • contact the Charity Commission to check the charity registration number or discuss any concerns - either via the helpline on 0870 333 0123 or by searching the online charity register www.charity-commission.gov.uk;
  • contact your local authority or police to check whether the collector has been granted a licence or needs one to collect;
  • above all, don't feel pressurised - send your donation to the charity direct. This may mean going to a little more trouble, but at least you can be sure that your donation will get to where it's intended;

Genuine fundraisers will be happy to answer questions and won't mind you checking them out. We want to make sure that donations go to legitimate charities and not fraudsters.

N.B. In some parts of London , the police also issue collection licences. A small minority of charities currently have a Home Office (HO) exemption order which permits them to carry out street collections without a licence. For further details on HO exemptions please call the HO public inquiry desk on 020 7273 4599.

Charity 'publishing' scams

Fake publishers are calling businesses around the UK and asking them for donations or to place adverts in various publications including charity booklets, emergency services magazines, and children's hospital 'activity' books. In reality, few are even printed.

The most common approaches include catching victims unawares by making unsolicited contact by telephone - often using numbers from telephone directories. Often, the scamsters will ring beforehand to get a name of a manager or director. They then ring back and claim to have had authorisation from this person previously.

Scamsters also trick victims into agreeing with statements, sometimes unwittingly signing them up to a campaign. A standard question is 'do you agree that children need better drugs education? They also pressurise victims into feeling guilty if they don't offer money and often offer a smaller (cheaper) sponsorship / donation opportunity if businesses first say no.

The new Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform guidelines include scam busting tips such as always checking credentials, ask as many questions as possible and don't send money or give out personal details to anyone until you've checked them out.

It's easy to check if a charity's genuine or not - check the online register of charities at the Charity Commission website.

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Article utilities:  Bookmark and Share Print Print this page Last updated: 03 Aug 2017 at 09:38