Charity collections on the high street may not be what they appear to be

Herefordshire Council’s Trading Standards service is advising the public to think twice before giving money to street collectors.

Many local charities rely on donations raised by legitimate street collections, but generous members of the public may be at risk of being duped by private companies pretending to be charities. At first glance, a street collector may look to be representing a charity when in fact they may be a private company looking to make a profit, with only a small proportion of the money received actually being donated to a charity.

Herefordshire Council Trading Standards Manager, David Hough, said:

“While it may not be illegal, we believe some private companies may try to exploit Herefordshire’s close connection to the Armed Forces with potentially misleading street collections, or sell health pamphlets and scratch cards. Members of the public should never feel guilty or under pressure by a fundraiser to make a donation immediately.

“We have recently received complaints about street collectors selling a war veteran’s magazine in High Town, Hereford. It is only when you read the booklet that you discover the company is not a charity, and most of the money goes to the seller and the company publishing the magazine. Members of the public were misled into thinking the seller was an unemployed service veteran, when there was no guarantee that this was the case.”

Herefordshire Council’s Trading Standards advice is:

  • Do not feel under pressure to donate on the spot to street collectors – they may not be what they appear to be

But if you do want to give to charity:

  • Take time away from the pressurised high street collector to choose the right charity for you
  • Only give to a known charity of your choice and always make sure the charity is genuine before giving any financial information

For those concerned that a high street charity collector is not legitimate, contact the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 03454 04 05 06.

Published: Friday, 30th August 2019