POLICE and Trading Standards officials are urging South Yorkshire residents to be on their guard against bogus charity collection operators.
They claim some operators who collect bags of clothing and household goods are duping the kind-hearted into believing they are giving to charity. In fact, some are cons selling the goods for profit.
A South Yorkshire Police spokesman said: “Donating old clothes and goods to a charity might appear a good way of helping others. Doorstep collections are a useful way for charities to gather donations directly from homes.
“But in an effort to help, consumers can often be duped by unscrupulous businesses collecting for profit with little or no charitable purpose at all.
“Leaflets advising of a forthcoming collection often give a misleading impression of charitable purposes, when in reality the organiser is a commercial operator for profit.
“This is often reinforced by a reference to a registration number, easily mistaken as that of a charity but very often a company number or simply made up.
“While some companies allege they donate some of the proceeds to charity, such claims are hard to prove - and the companies do not usually last long enough to be investigated before they disappear.
The force said legitimate collectors will state how much of the money raised from donated goods goes to charity.
They should also be registered with the local authority in the area where they are collecting as they must have a permit.
If an organisation claims to have a charity number, it can be checked with the Charity Commission. To check visit www.charitycommission.gov.uk or telephone 0845 3000 218.