Anger over collection con men

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RESIDENTS are being urged to stay on their guard against bogus clothes collectors seeking to exploit charitable Wiganers.

Con men posing as charities are organising collections of old and unwanted clothing and suggesting people’s gifts will go to aid the needy, before selling on the garments and pocketing the profits.

Wigan Council’s Trading Standards’ team has become increasingly alarmed about the growth in bogus collections, with many residents unaware the collection is being carried out by a profit-making company.

Wiganers are being warned to check for misleading bags and leaflets which may not use the words registered charity but instead use pictures or wording that imply that the appeal is charitable, such as “sick children at Christmas” or “families in need”.

Julie Middlehurst, Wigan Council’s Trading Standards and licensing manager, said: “In most cases, businesses collecting house-to-house for charities need a licence from the council, so people should check that they have one.

“We don’t want people to be put off giving to good causes but with a bit of information you should be able to make the right choice. It is a shame that the generosity of spirit and goodwill of local people, particularly at this time of year, is being exploited in such a cynical way.”

To ensure that donations do reach those genuinely in need, the Charities Commission has compiled a list of tips:

- Be suspicious of any leaflet that does not state the name of the charity your donations will go to.

-Ensure that leaflets provide a charity registration number. Most door to door collections will also leave their bags at least two days before they collect any donations, allowing time to check the Charity Commission’s online register.

- Collections which look unprofessional, are badly worded or contain spelling mistakes should be checked by contacting the charity to ensure it is legitimate.

- Treat leaflets which only give mobile phone numbers or no contact details with suspicion.

- Some advertising leaflets provide a company registration number, which is not the same as a charity registration number and may indicate the organisation is operating commercially for profit.

Wiganers are also being encouraged to give clothing or goods directly to good causes through the borough’s charity shops or at an official collection point.

Anyone concerned about bogus collections should contact Trading Standards via the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on the hotline number 08454 040506.