Trading Standards Information and Advice: Beware Christmas charity scams

People in East Sussex who donate clothing to charities are being warned to check the charity first.

As the yuletide period approaches residents across the County may want to give to good causes using charitable collections to donate clothing. However, East Sussex County Council is asking people to be careful who they give to and double check that the charity isn’t just one big scam. Council Trading Standards Officers say that not all the collections are for legitimate charities.

Councillor Carl Maynard, Lead Member for Economy, Transport & Environment said: “Unless you are giving to a recognised charity, the profits from your donation could end up in the pockets of criminals. This is not the most complicated scam in the world but the Association of Charity Shops estimates that between £2.5m and £3m is lost to these scams each year. This is money that could have gone to bona fide charities.

“Our advice would be to be wary of vague statements on packaging with examples including ‘donations for work creation’ or ‘donations to help poor children’. Always check the charity first before you decide to donate.”

Trading Standards say that when checking if a charitable collection is legitimate, consider the following:

Does the bag or leaflet have the number of a registered charity? If so, is there a registered charity number? You can use the Charity Commission website or contact them directly for an up-to-date list of registered charities.

Check that the registered charity does have a collection service and that it’s not some pop-up company claiming it collects for a registered charity.

Does the leaflet or sack provide contact details? If not this is generally a sign that the collector doesn’t want to be contacted because they are not a genuine charity.

If you would like to report a bogus charity please contact Louise Baxter at louise.baxter@eastsussex.gov.uk

Visit the Charity Commission website at www.charity-commission.gov.uk or telephone the Commission on 0845 300 0218.

Residents who would like general information about avoiding scams should visit the County Council’s website at www.eastsussex.gov.uk/consumeradvice and click on ‘alerts, food safety and scams’. Further advice is also available from www.consumerdirect.gov.uk.