More needs to be done to tackle fake charity clothing collection banks

The Textile Recycling Association (TRA) is calling for greater vigilance on the part of landowners, local authorities and legitimate bank operators in reporting fake charity bank and unlicensed bank operators, following on from a feature in the Fake Britain programme, which was broadcast in some parts of the country last night on BBC1. The issue of some banks being dumped in Harlow (Essex) with the branding “Kids Go Green” which is not a registered charity and which contained no contact details, was highlighted.

“The vast majority of clothing collection banks are operated in a legitimate and bona fide manner and help to raise millions of pounds for proper charitable causes, provide a valuable service and income for local authorities and produce significant environmental and social benefits” said Alan Wheeler, Director of the Textile Recycling Association. “However, in a number of instances, unscrupulous operators are simply dumping clothing collection banks on sites without any permission from landowners or site operators and are profiteering through deceiving the public and a lack of action to get these banks removed.”

The process for getting unlicensed clothing banks removed in a legal manner is a relatively straight forward process and the TRA is urging everyone who spots a dumped bank to report it by contacting them. The TRA is able to offer advice to anyone who is faced with this issue and assistance in the removal process should this prove necessary.

“If you are the landowner or are responsible for managing the site and a bank appears and you have not given the operators permission, it is unlicensed and should be removed” said Ian Woods – President of the Textile Recycling Association. “Even if the bank purports to be raising money for a registered UK charity it should still be removed. Regrettably, there are a very small number of sham charities that are registered with the Charity Commission, that have been set up for illegal or improper purpose by some illegitimate clothing collectors, purely so that they can carry the charity branding on their banks. From the evidence we have seen very little, if any, money raised through the sale of clothing collected through these banks actually ends up being used for the charities stated philanthropic aims”.

A legitimate clothing collection bank should carry the name of the business servicing the bank (or well-known charity) with traceable contact details such a landline telephone number and website which provides a postal address. If a bank operator only provides a mobile telephone number (or no number at all) and they do not provide their address on their website, this would indicate that they do not want to be traced and the TRA would advise against using the bank. If it is a charity bank operated by a commercial business, there should be a solicitation statement explaining how the charity benefits from the donations put in the bank. If the bank states a charity number that is registered with the charity commission, this provides some indication of legitimacy. However, if the charity is not well-known, the TRA recommends caution and to check whether the charity provides contact details other than those provided on the Charity Commission website.