Clampdown on misleading 'charity bag' collectors

BGJ921 black bag of clothes for charity

There's to be a clamp-down on 'charity bag' companies that collect used clothing, shoes and bric-a-brac but mislead householders about where the cash will end up.

The Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP), which writes the UK advertising rules, says that companies must be upfront with people about just how they actually operate.

They must make it clear that they are commercial enterprises, and that any donations consumers make won't go directly to a charity, with goods being sold and a proportion of the profits being given instead.

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The move follows an Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) ruling last year which found a company's charity collection bag was misleading.

There was no mention of the advertiser's name or company status on the front of the bag - but the charity name and number were given prominence on the back.

The bags, distributed by Recycle Proline, were headed 'Cancer Research & Genetics UK' on both sides and also included a charity registration number. Only in small print did the firm explain that it was a commercial company.

"No-one should feel duped into thinking they are donating directly to a charity if that's not the case," says director of the committees Shahriar Coupal.

"Appeals to consumers' generosity can benefit a range of good causes but it's only fair that these companies are truthful and transparent about the commercial nature of the service they provide."

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Companies are now being given two months to bring their collection bags into line. While it's fine to show the name and logo of the charity which will benefit from donations, it must be obvious that there's a commercial nature to the collection too.

The company name must be at least as prominent as the charity, on both sides of the bag.

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What the new ruling doesn't cover is complete crooks.

"CAP is aware of concerns about charity bags left on people's doorsteps by fly-by-night or bogus operators who masquerade as charities but who are, in fact, engaged in criminal activity," it says.

"These operators are best tackled by law enforcement bodies and any consumers with concerns about the legitimacy of a collection service should check with their local council or donate directly to an official charity."

Victims of scams and fraud
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Susan Tollefsen, Britain's oldest first time mother, was scammed out of £160,000 by a fraudster she met on an online dating site. A man claiming to be an Italian gold and diamond dealer told her he was in the middle of a land deal but couldn't access cash. Tollefsen felt sorry for him and started wiring him money, eventually selling her jewellery, her flat and borrowing £32,000 from friends to give him. Read the full story here.
In March 2015 an American woman who was only identified as 'Sarah' went on the popular US television programme the Dr Phil Show to reveal she had sent $1.4 million to a man that she had never met. Although she was certain she wasn't being scammed, her cousin made her go on the programme because she was convinced it was a scam. Find out more about the story here.
Maggie Surridge employed Lee Slocombe to lay a £350 deck in her garden in March 2015. However Slocombe used a combination of lies to scam Surridge out of thousands of pounds. He told Surridge that the front and back walls were dangerous and needed rebuilding and also conned her into building a porch, all for the cost of £8,500. Read the full story here.
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Sylvia Kneller, 76, was conned out of £200,000 over the space of 56 years thanks to scam mail. The pensioner became addicted to responding to the fraudsters, convinced that she would one day win a fortune. Ms Kneller would receive letters claiming she had won large sums of money but she needed to send processing fees to claim her prize. Learn about the full story here
Leslie Jubb, 103, became Britain's oldest scam victim in August last year when he was conned out of £60,000 after being sent an endless stream of catalogues promising prizes in return for purchasing overpriced goods. The extent of this con was discovered when Mr Jubb temporarily moved into a care home and his family discovered what he had lost. Find out more about this story here
Stephen Cox won more than £100,000 on the National Lottery in 2003 but has been left with nothing after falling victim to two conmen. The 63-year-old was pressured into handing over £60,000 to the men who told him his roof needed fixing. They walked him into banks and building societies persuading him to part with £80,000 of cash while doing no work in return. See the full story here
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Rebecca Ferguson shot to fame as a runner up on the X-Factor in 2010 but fell victim to a scam artist last year when someone she had believed to be a friend conned her out of £43,000. Rachel Taylor befriended the singer in 2012 and claimed to be a qualified accountant, so Ferguson allowed her to look after her finances. Instead of doing this Taylor stole £43,000 from the Liverpudlian singer. Read more here
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