Watchdog issues May Day charity scam alert

The Charity Commission is warning people out and about over the May Bank Holiday to beware of charity scams, particularly in the London area.

People are advised to make simple checks when approached by anyone selling sweets, roses and other items in pubs, clubs, concert queues and other leisure spots, in the name of charity.

Charity Commission Director of Operations, Simon Gillespie, said: "We've been investigating a small number of serious scams in London and the South. People are generous to charity collectors during the holiday season but they need to ensure they are giving to genuine good causes by following our Safer Giving code. Charities need your support, but make sure you are giving to genuine collectors rather than getting caught out by a small number of unscrupulous people."

The Commission has uncovered a number of scams operating in the capital, most recently in the City of London and Hammersmith areas. Sellers, who are often young women, may appear completely genuine and carry material featuring real charity logos. A small number of these sellers, however, are bogus and are not authorised by the charities they name. The south coast has also been targeted.

Lindsay Boswell, Chief Executive of the Institute of Fundraising, said: "Genuine charities do wonderful work for the community and it is a shame that a few individuals abuse the public's trust. Please ensure you give to a genuine charity this May bank holiday."

The Watchdog advocates following 'The Safer Giving' code:
  • Does the collector have proper authority to collect (not just a letter acknowledging receipt of a previous donation);
  • Are they wearing convincing ID badges?:
  • Are they using a charity registration number?:
  • Is the seal of their collecting tin undamaged?;
  • Can the collector tell you how much of your donation goes directly to the charity?;
A Commission spokesperson said: "If there is any doubt, send a donation to the charity direct and if you suspect a collector contact the Charity Commission or local police."


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