You get home to find a plastic bag asking for charitable donations on your door mat. ‘Brilliant,’ you think, ‘I’d just been through my wardrobe and sorted out a whole load of stuff I haven’t worn for ages – now I don’t need to take it to the charity shop.’

But suddenly paranoia strikes. You’ve read about bogus collections. How are you meant to tell if the bag you’ve received is legitimate?

Never fear, we’re here to help. We’ve compiled our top tips for spotting bogus charity collections. Follow them and you’ll be able to give with confidence (and report any illegitimate collectors!)

Tip 1 – Be sceptical if the charity isn’t named

It’s easy to become invested in ill children or families with nothing at Christmas. After all, who doesn’t want to help those in need? However, before your stuff your bag full of all those pre-loved items, make sure the charity itself is actually named.

It’s also worth keeping your eyes peeled for a ‘Notifiable Solicitation Statement’. It sounds longwinded, but if a third party is collecting on behalf of a charity (as we do for our amazing partner charities), the bag it pops through your door should make clear that the business isn’t entitled to take financial donations. It should also state the amount that the charity will receive. (A minimum of £100 per tonne of clothing is what we give our partner charities.)

Tip 2 – Look out for the registered charity number

All charities are registered with the Charity Commission and will have their own individual registration number. If you’re unsure about the legitimacy of a charity, you can search for them on the Charity Commission website or call 0845 3000 218 to check up on them.

Remember, a registered company number just means the business is registered with Companies House – that in itself doesn’t mean that you’re able to trust it as a legitimate fundraising business. However, the Fundraising Regulator logo is a reliable sign that the collection is genuine.

Tip 3 – Don’t be afraid to ask questions

We’re naturally disinclined to question people’s authenticity – especially those who say they’re doing something for a good cause. However, that’s just what you should do if you receive a bag asking for clothing donations through your door.

Everyone who’s authorised to act on behalf of a legitimate charity should carry their certified ID with them. Of course, if someone’s dropped a bag through your door, you may not see them at all. But if you do, don’t be afraid to ask the van driver or distributor for proof of their identity. If they’re genuine, they’ll be delighted to show it to you.

Tip 4 – Get in touch using the contact details on the bag

If a collection is genuine, the charity or business responsible will always be happy to answer any questions you might have about the collection process or how much money the charity will receive as a result of your donation. That’s why authentic bags or leaflets generally provide a phone number and email address.

If you’re unable to find contact details anywhere, this could indicate that whoever’s dropped off the bag doesn’t want to be contacted – which should set your warning bells ringing!

Follow those tips and you’ll be able to relax in the knowledge that you’ve donated your clothing to raise money for a worthy cause!

CTA: Want to report an authorised collection? Get as many details as you can – including the vehicle registration number, if possible – and contact the police or the Your Donation office.