Newcastle City Council's Trading Standards service continues to receive a number of enquiries from residents who are concerned over the legitimacy of individuals who may collect charity bags from their homes in the city.

The service recognises that many charities now ask householders for old clothes and other items, which can be sold for charitable purposes. However, not everyone who comes to your home, or drops in a plastic bag is operating on behalf of a charity. Some collectors will be operating businesses, asking for unwanted items which can be sold for profit.

It has been estimated by the Association of Charity Shops that the potential value of donated clothing and other items 'lost' to legitimate charities as a result of these bogus collections amounts to over £50m per annum. Many genuine charities rely on such doorstep collections for a substantial proportion of their shop sales.

Typically, householders receive flyers through their letterboxes appealing for donations of unwanted clothes, footwear and sometimes other household and electrical items to be distributed to poor individuals and families in Eastern European or third world countries.

Householders are asked to leave the goods in a plastic bag at the front door. These are later collected anonymously.

The flyers give the misleading impression that the items are being collected for charitable purposes. In reality, the collections are often organised by commercial operators who sell the donated items for profit.

Advice from the Trading Standards service 

Visit the Charity Commission website or phone their helpline on 0870 333 0123 to check whether the collection is for a registered charity.

Contact the City Council's Licensing service on 0191 2783864 or email to see if the collector has been licensed. 

If you want to make sure your donation will go to charity give direct to a local charity shop instead or put them in a charity container, located at many supermarkets.

These should make clear reference to a charity registered  number and may also carry the Association of Charity Shops mark. 

For any concerns of a criminal nature contact Northumbria Police on 101 or in an emergency phone 999. Visit the Northumbria Police website.

For more detailed information go to the Charity Retail Association website.

The Trading Standards service has also published a new advisory poster, copies of which the Service will be distributing to various organisations for display. View or download a copy of the poster (pdf 321 kb).

For more information around consumer advice go to our Consumer Advice webpage.

Please contact the Trading Standards Service, Public Safety, Regulation and Development, City of Newcastle upon Tyne, Civic Centre, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 8QH.
Phone: 0191 2116121

Page last updated: 
6 July 2017
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