The UK trading watchdog is urging householders to be wary of bogus charity collectors.
Money goes into tricksters' pockets instead of charities'
Genuine charities are losing £1m a year because people mistakenly give unwanted belongings to con artists.
The Office of Fair Trading said they were tempting households with flyers promising to distribute unwanted belongings to poor countries.
People who have doubts about a collector are being urged to contact the Charity Commission.
The OFT said the flyers give the misleading impression that the items are being collected for charitable purposes.
This is reinforced in some instances by a registration number quoted on the flyers.
This makes people think that it is a registered charity, but it is in fact a limited company number.
The OFT is now urging people who have doubts about a collector to contact the Charity Commission helpline.
Antony Robbins of the Charity Commission,
said people should not be put off giving to charity.
"Together we can help make sure that donations go to genuine charities to help them carry out their vital work."
To check if a collection is genuine, call the Charity Commission helpline on 0870 333 0123.