MORE than €11m worth of donations to genuine charities was lost to bogus collectors in the two years before 2011.
A survey carried out by the Irish Charity Shops Association (ICSA) shows that bogus collectors are costing charitable organisations millions a year.
Callous criminals employ underhand tactics like dropping leaflets looking for donations, stealing donations intended for legitimate charities or even stealing from textile recycling banks.
ICSA spokesperson Paul Hughes said that bogus collectors can extremely convincing and are raking in millions in unwarranted donations.
"Millions of euro worth of donations intended for registered charities are being stolen or fraudulently solicited from the public every year by bogus collectors and bogus charity shops," Mr Hughes said.
"These parasites are misleading the public who donate clothes and other unwanted items in the belief that they are supporting legitimate charities."
Bill Ralph, of Age Action Ireland, said that he and his team have encountered bogus collectors many times over the years.
"Our collectors often meet bogus collectors on the streets of Dublin, taking bags of goods left out for legitimate charities or passing themselves off as charities."
Now registered charity shops around Ireland have implemented a new initiative to combat bogus collectors.
Since March 15, all legitimate charity shops now display a green 'Choose Charity Shops 1st' logo in the window to make them more identifiable.
Mr Ralph says he's trying to educate people that it's no longer safe to just leave a donation outside a charity shop.
"The only way to be sure of beating the bogus collectors is to call your charity to organise a collection or drop the bag in to your local shop."
As well as looking for the 'Choose Charity Shops 1st' logo, people who wish to find a legitimate charity shop near them can visit www.icsa.ie/shops.