Cast off your Clothes . . . . in the right place

20140320_123009[1]Many people find donating old clothes and goods to charities a good method of clearing out their wardrobes and drawers ready to be filled with new Summer or Winter stock.

Charities often make use of doorstep collections to gather donations directly from people’s homes.

Sometimes these will be in the form of leaflets inviting you to leave a bag outside your door for collection a few days later, usually anonymously.

Alternatively a printed plastic bag may be dropped for ease of use. There are often accompanying words to tell you about the cause towards which the clothes will go.

Trading Standards continues to advice that you read the leaflets and plastic bags very carefully.

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.

The flyers may give the misleading impression that the items are being collected for charitable purposes. Imagery and headline-grabbing text may be used. A national charity logo may be copied or a name used that is similar to a well-known Charitable cause.

A number may be printed lulling the householder into believing it is a bona fide Charity number. Often this will be a company registration number and more than likely false or a number based on a register in an overseas country. A website, mobile phone number or email address may also be provided, adding to the plausibility.

In reality, the collections may be organised by commercial operators who sell the donated items for profit. The misleading impression is in some instances reinforced by a reference to a registration number, which people may think is that of a Registered Charity but is in fact a limited company number.

Top tips for spotting a genuine charity collection:

  • Does the sack or leaflet say the collection is for a registered charity? If so, you can check the registered charity number – call 0845 3000 218 or visit the online register of charities at to check that it’s genuine.
  • Do they give a registered company number? Even if they do, there is no guarantee that the organisation is still a registered company. You can check at
  • Is the charity actually named? Be wary of ambiguous wording that says ‘families in need’ or ‘sick kids at Christmas’.
  • Does the leaflet or bag give an address or phone number? The absence of contact details may suggest that the collectors don’t want to answer questions.

Note too that some collection containers at the large supermarkets may also be for profit. Check the signage on the containers as whilst a UK Charity may be mentioned only a proportion of monies raised may end up with them.

Genuine charity collections should be authorised by district councils. Some large national charities have a permit issued by the Home Office.

If you have any doubts about a leaflet asking for donations, you can give direct to a local charity shop instead where you know the goods will be sold for the proper cause.

Note that reputable charity collections – and there will be many good causes – will bear the charity registration number and many will also carry the Association of Charity Shops Kitemark.

Further information on your rights is available by calling Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 03454 04 05 06.

About suffolktradingstandards
Suffolk Trading Standards is working towards creating and fair and safe trading environment. By creating empowered consumers, that are armed with the knowledge to stop 'rogue traders'.

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