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Safer giving advice

Most collections are genuine but check before giving to make sure your money goes to genuine, registered charities.

Sadly there are clever fraudsters operating who abuse the good name and reputation of both individual charities and the charity sector as a whole. Every year thousands of pounds are stolen from charities through this criminal behaviour – often unknowingly and unreported. Charities and the public need to be alert to any possible fraud and commonly used tactics.

The Fraud Advisory Panel have released Giving Safely guidance to help protect the public and donors from charity fraudsters. They have also teamed up with GoFundMe to come up with 5 top tips to giving safely through crowdfunding platforms.

Advice for the public

Do not be put off giving to charities – they do really important work, helping those in the greatest need – but be vigilant and take the following steps to make sure you are safely giving to legitimate charity collectors:

  • Before giving, check the charity’s name and registration number – you can verify this on the register of charities
  • Be more cautious about people collecting for general charitable causes, such as ‘it’s for local sick children’- make more enquiries about what exactly the money would be used for and by who – many local authorities will not issue licences for street collections unless they are collecting on behalf of a registered charity as opposed to ‘appeals’, making it much less likely that such fundraising is licensed
  • when approached by collectors, check whether they are wearing a proper ID badge and that any collection tin is sealed and that it is not damaged
  • if in doubt, ask the collector for more information – a genuine fundraiser should be happy to answer questions and explain more about the work of the charity
  • genuine fundraising materials should feature the charity’s name, registered number and a landline contact number – be wary of those that list only a mobile number – it is a legal requirement for registered charities with an income above £10,000 a year to state it is a registered charity when fundraising on a range of documents, including websites, advertisements and other documents such as receipts
  • check whether a collector has authority to collect – a permit or license is usually required if raising money in a public place – collections in private places like train stations and supermarkets need the owner’s or manager’s permission – collections in pubs need either a license or an exemption
  • to check whether a fundraiser is authorised to collect money in a public place, contact your local authority or, if in London, the Metropolitan police. If it is a private place, check with the owner
  • never feel under pressure by a fundraiser into making a donation immediately
  • when dealing online with charities, exercise the same caution as with any other internet transaction, for example, to donate online visit the charity’s own website and always type the website address into the browser yourself – be wary of unsolicited emails from charities you have never heard of and do not click on links contained within them – also, you should ignore requests to donate through a money transfer company as this is a popular scam
  • carefully review collection bags for clothing and household goods to find out whether they are from a genuine charity
  • After making these checks, if you think that a collection or appeal is not legitimate, report it to the police; and if you think the collection is fraudulent report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or through their website at www.actionfraud.police.uk.

If you think a collector does not have a licence – report it to the relevant Local Authority Licensing Team or the Metropolitan Police (if in Greater London) – also let the charity and Action Fraud know if you can. If in any doubt, contact your favourite charity directly to find out how to make a donation.