RESIDENTS of the Morecambe and Lancaster area are being warned to be on the look-out for fake charity collectors.
Trading standards officers are becoming increasingly concerned about carefully-worded leaflets requesting unwanted clothes and other basic household items which are being pushed through letterboxes.
There is growing evidence that these leaflets are in fact from commercial businesses rather than bona fide charities.
The county’s trading standards service is advising Lancashire’s residents that genuine leaflets will usually provide a charity registration number. Most door-to-door collectors will wait for at least two days before collecting any donations, allowing people time! to check the Charity Commission’s online register of charities.
Albert Atkinson, Lancashire County Council’s cabinet member responsible for trading standards, said: “Bogus charity scams are a national problem which abuse the trust and generosity of those who want to make donations to worthy causes. They can have a detrimental effect on legitimate charities.
“The same is true here as well. Lancashire residents identified bogus charity collections to be the fourth highest scam in the recent scamnesty campaign, in which trading standards and the police encouraged people to put their scam mailings in special scamnesty bins.”
All the scams identified by Lancashire residents during the scamnesty campaign, including those relating to bogus charity collections, were passed on to the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau. They have identified the issue of bogus charity collections as being potentially worth millions of pounds and see! s organised gangs targeting the door-to-door collections that charities make.
Coun Atkinson added: “Donating clothing and goods to charities is a great way to help people who are in need; however, charities are losing substantial sums of money to anonymous bogus collectors who mislead members of the public into thinking they are charities. It’s important the public are confident that their donation is going to a genuine charitable cause.
“Most collections for charities are genuine and provide a valuable source of income. However people may not be aware that in some cases only a small portion of the money raised actually reaches the charity or that, in extreme cases, the money is used to fund organised crime.”
So how can Lancashire’s residents spot an unscrupulous charity collection?
Beware of the following:-
*Bags not displaying the words ‘registered charity’ followed by a charity number
*Bags trying to pass off their company registration number as a registered charity number
*! Bags not stating the specific charity they are collecting for
*Bags unprofessionally produced, poor grammar and spelling
*Bags without landline contact numbers
If in doubt:-
*Confirm the registered charity number via the online register at www.charitycommission.gov.uk
*Contact the charity directly to confirm whether they are collecting in your area
*Dispose of charity donations at charity shops or official collection points
For advice or to report a suspect bogus charity collection, contact Lancashire Trading Standards via Consumer Direct on 08454 040506 or Lancashire Police.
To report a specific fraud, contact the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau on 0300 123 2040.