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Consumers wanting to give to charity in the run-up to Christmas could become unwitting victims of unscrupulous advertisers, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) warned today. The ASA has received a series of complaints from members of the public about door drop leaflets and regional press ads appealing for charity donations that misleadingly imply the advertisers are a registered charity.
One such leaflet, distributed by HK & Associates, read:
"Can you spare your old unwanted clothes for the people of Eastern Europe? All items collected will be distributed in Charity Shops in Lithuania, Ukraine and Belorussia."
Another, dropped through letterboxes by Golden Tree Union Ltd, said:
"Not everyone and especially young families can afford to buy new, often expensive clothes and household things. Thank you for helping us to help others."
The leaflets failed to make clear that donated items would be sold for profit by the advertisers.
Last week, the ASA upheld complaints that a local press ad for North East Community Link, based in Newcastle, misleadingly implied that the advertiser was a charity that gave free furniture to the homeless.
As a result of these adjudications, the Compliance team, which is responsible for ensuring that advertisers comply with the rules governing non-broadcast advertising, is working with publishers of newspapers, magazines and other media owners to stop these misleading advertisements from appearing.
ASA Director General Christopher Graham said:
"Companies who advertise in this way are exploiting the public's goodwill in order to generate profit for themselves. By stating that donations will be distributed to those in need or by adding a misleading business registration number to door-drop leaflets, they are attempting to pass themselves off as genuine charities."
The ASA's warning coincides with the launch of the Charity Commission's seasonal 'Safer Giving' campaign. Simon Gillespie, Director of Operations at the Charity Commission, said:
"We welcome the ASA's move to warn members of the public about bogus ads for clothing collections. There are cheats who prey on the generosity of people - especially at Christmas but charity fraud is rare. This week we launch our nationwide safer giving campaign, which helps members of the public to donate safely to genuine charities. Our message is 'Be generous but be wise. And don't get caught out by the Christmas conmen'."
[end of news release] Source: Advertising Standards Authority
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Our thanks to the Advertising Standards Authority for permission to reproduce the document.
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