Charities combine to halt bogus collections and doorstop thefts

The Association of Charity Shops will meet Clothes Aid and a large coalition of charities in the first week of July to develop a central alert scheme to stop bogus charity collectors.

The meeting will discuss the problem of commercial companies that collect donations of clothes and other items for seemingly charitable purposes.

Another subject will be groups that carry out large-scale thefts of donation bags. The association estimates that these practices cost UK charities between £2.5m and £3m a year.

The coalition is developing a database that would allow bona fide charity collectors to log and share information on suspicious activity across the UK for lobbying purposes and to provide intelligence for arrests.

Lekha Klouda, director of the Association of Charity Shops, said: "If collectors see a suspicious vehicle shadowing them as they collect, it would enable charities to share this information."

Clothes Aid, the registered company that collects textiles from donors' doorsteps, has been logging such incidents extensively.

"We will share data with the coalition and enforcement agencies," said Michael Lomotey, head of collection protection at the company. "The idea is to provide evidence that this is a big problem."

Also..

HMRC has refused to clamp down on bogus collectors who escape paying tax by selling clothes to unregistered companies for personal gain, according to Clothes Aid.

An invitation to a meeting on 18 June to discuss intelligence collected by Clothes Aid on bogus collectors is the third to be turned down, the company told Third Sector.

Clothes Aid also claims attempts to contact HMRC through its reporting fraud helpline and though a senior officer have failed.

However, an HMRC spokesman said: "If Clothes Aid sends the information it has to our Central Compliance Unit, we guarantee it will be used to ensure the right tax is being paid."

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