OFT warning over bogus doorstep charity collectors

As Britons begin think about spring cleaning, the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has warned the public to be wary of bogus charity clothing collections – a practice which costs genuine charities around £1 million a year.

Many genuine charities rely on doorstep collections of unwanted household items, but some companies are now beginning to exploit the practice for commercial reasons.

The OFT has warned householders to check flyers passed through their letterboxes and ensure that they are distributed by registered charities.

Some flyers delivered to homes have been found to misleadingly suggest that donations go directly to charity – instead collections seem to be organised by commercial operators who sell the donated items for profit, the OFT warned.

The misleading impression is in some instances reinforced by reference to a registration number, which people may think is that of a Registered Charity but is in fact a limited company number.

Christine Wade, Director of the Consumer Regulation Enforcement Division of the OFT, said: "Bogus collections deprive genuine charities of significant sources of revenue. We want people to be alert to the practices of unscrupulous individuals and companies that seek to exploit their generosity and goodwill."

The Association of Charity Shops estimated that that the potential value of donated clothing and other items 'lost' to legitimate charities as a result of these bogus collections amounts to over £1 million per annum.

Antony Robbins, Head of Communications at the Charity Commission, said: "We're asking people to be generous but be smart and don't let bogus collectors put you off giving to charity. Check for a registered charity number and feel free to check the number with us. Together we can help make sure that donations go to genuine charities to help them carry out their vital work."

If a householder has any doubts about a leaflet asking for donations, they should: contact the Charity Commission helpline on 0870 333 0123 to check whether the collection is for, or on behalf of, a registered charity; contact their 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.


Related UK National News Stories
Click here for the latest headlines.

24 May 2006
Charities 'fail to hear complaints'
More than two-thirds of charities do not have complaints procedures in place, a new report has revealed. The Charity Commission survey, to which 1,129 charities responded, found that 69% did not have a complaints procedure in place.
05 March 2008
Charities To Lose 'Millions' Over Tax Changes
Charities have been warned that they stand to lose out on around £90 million when the new lower income tax rate is introduced next month. The Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) said that the drop in the basic rate of income tax will reduce the amount of gift aid that charities can claim on donations.
23 November 2006
Charity Commission warns of lottery scam
The Charity Commission is warning the public about a new email scam, which uses the names of two well-known charities. The scam tells recipients that they have won half a million pounds and requests personal details in order for the 'prize' to be awarded.
20 February 2006
Charity Commission returns highlight database
A new database set up by the Charity Commission promises to make it easier to research what charities are making and doing. The Summary Information Return (SIR) database will hold details of all the biggest charities' achievements and let them tell their story to everyone, whether potential volunteers, donors or committed givers.
24 February 2005
Charities warned of 'nasty' new scam
The Charity Commission has issued a warning to charities to be on the alert for a 'clever but nasty new scam', which could lead to organisations having their bank accounts emptied.