News item

Charity bags not all they seem

Do you receive a lot of charity bags requesting clothes and other items for ‘charity’?
 
According to the National Fraud Investigation Bureau charity bag fraud costs £50 million per year in the UK. Charity bags are being distributed by fraudulent collectors, and in some cases bags full of donated goods are simply stolen from the roadside by passing thieves before the official charity manages to collect them.
 
Fraudsters have also been known to run bogus charity collections themselves, claiming that donated goods will go to charities, legitimate or otherwise, but have been pocketing the proceeds for themselves.
 
As part of Scams Awareness Month West Yorkshire Trading Standards is informing people to be wary of collection bags which may look like they are from a charity but are actually being delivered by a clothes recycling company who keep most of the money and only give a small percentage of any donations to charity.

So how can we tell if a charity bag is genuine?

A large proportion of charity bags are genuine, they will feature the charity’s details and registered number on the bag and if you would like further information or are suspicious you can look up registered UK charities on the Charity Commission’s website. You can also call the charity or your local authority to find out more about the collections in your area.

Graham Hebblethwaite, Chief Officer of West Yorkshire Trading Standards said ‘I would urge people who wish to donate unwanted items to do so with recognised organisations or charities to prevent these individuals from profiting. If possible take donations in to charity shops to ensure it’s delivered or contact the charity directly for collection. 
 
Councillor Neil Taggart, Chair of the West Yorkshire Joint Services Committee which oversees the work of Trading Standards said ‘Consumers should be on their guard when receiving charity bags through the door. Registered charities and similar organisations do such good work and benefit immensely from local door-to-door collections of clothing and similar household goods.  It’s a shame that unscrupulous traders attempt to mimic these genuine operations, thereby depriving worthy causes of valuable income.’
 
As part of the Financial Fitness initiative being delivered across Kirklees, and the SAFER project in Leeds & Bradford, community members have been learning how to spot the hallmarks of a scam, empowering themselves with the skills they need to protect themselves and to look out for others who might be vulnerable to falling foul of unscrupulous scammers. The SAFER project is aimed at older residents and involves engaging with interactive, hands on workshops, in a bid to raise awareness of scams emerging locally and improve financial health, whilst interacting socially with others, sharing tips and advice.

DATE: 03 May 2013