Beware of bogus charities warns Merton and The Charity Commission, after commercial companies were found to be using the impression of a ‘charity’ to get donations of clothes, that are subsequently sold for profit.
Households in the borough should be aware the scam and are advised to check that the collection is genuine before making a donation. The type of messages given can vary from ‘your donation will go to poor families in Eastern Europe’ to ‘all proceeds will go to help the needy’, but the commercial nature of the enterprise is the same.
To help sort the genuine from the bogus, residents are advised to look out for the following:
Is the organiser’s full address and telephone number given on the leaflet?
Does the leaflet or collecting bag show a registered charity number? Some companies state their ‘registered’ number, but this usually just means they’re registered as a company with Companies House.
It’s perfectly legal for a professional fundraising company to collect on behalf of a charity but it must say how much of the donation will actually go to the charity.
If an organisation is collecting on behalf of a charity then it should name the charity in any fundraising material. ‘Needy orphans’ and ‘Sick kids’ isn’t specific enough!
Organisations collecting house-to-house need a valid licence or permit from their local authority – check they have one; it’s illegal to collect without it.
If you don’t recognise the charity or company involved then feel free to phone for further details before giving. If the response isn’t professional, or there’s no reply or you feel uneasy about the information given then don’t donate.
Ian Murrell, Merton Council’s Commercial and Trading Standards Manager, said: “Please read any leaflets very carefully before you give anything away. You may be boosting a company’s profits rather than helping a worthwhile cause.”
If you have any doubts about the legitimacy of organisations dropping bags or leaflets through your letterbox call The Charity Commission’s helpline on 0870 333 0123, or Merton Trading Standards office on 020 8545 4018. Being able to provide the leaflet and any additional information, such as registration numbers for vehicles used is very helpful.