At a time of year when the air is infused with the spirit of charity and giving, unscrupulous businesses are taking advantage of people’s generosity by setting up illegal clothing collection bins. It’s become enough of a problem in the Town of Oyster Bay that Supervisor Joseph Saladino helmed a recent press conference warning residents of this most recent scam. Town officials have removed several illegally placed bins after learning that donations were allegedly being improperly collected and sold for profit.
“It has recently come to our attention that some of these collection bins, many of which have appeared to be homemade, are possibly being used in an illegal and despicable fashion,” Saladino said. “These wooden structures have been popping up in parking lots throughout our town, with stencil lettering and no sign of legitimacy. The Town of Oyster Bay Highway Department swiftly removed these illegal bins and cautions residents to make certain they are donating to a legitimate, well-intentioned organization.”
Standing in front of a collection of confiscated bins, the shoddy construction is readily apparent, whether it’s the dinged-up metal being used or in the case of one bin, the pressed board material that was used had holes in it and was splintering on the side. Currently, collection bins are not permitted in Town of Oyster Bay-operated lots and as such, some well-intentioned businesses may authorize their placement, not realizing the recent increase in fraudulent bins.
“Many of [these bins] were found around the Town of Oyster Bay in places like railroad station parking lots and municipal parking lots, where without permission, scam organizations set them up,” he said. “You’ll see the difference. They’re not very professional looking. They’re made of wood and not strong structural metal. The metal ones should have a logo of the organization, a contact website and/or a contact phone number. These do not. So if it smells bad, generally it stinks.”
Councilwoman Michele Johnson appeared alongside Saladino, and also highlighted warning signs of other holiday scams all county residents should be aware of that include:
• Collection bins with no identification
• Overflowing, non-maintained donation bins
• Donations being requested over the phone
• Acknowledgement of a donation never made
• Requests for personal identification, including Social Security number
Residents can determine if a charity is registered in New York State by visiting www.charitiesnys.com/RegistrySearch/search_charities.jsp or calling 212- 416-8401. To determine how charities spend donation monies, visit www.charitynavigator.org or www.charitywatch.org. Residents can also call the Nassau County Department of Consumer Affairs at 516-571-2600.