The Salvation Army in Stornoway issued an urgent doorstep scam warning on Tuesday July 10th, after reports that people are going door-to-door in the Stornoway area claiming to represent the charity and asking for credit or debit card details to set up regular donations.

And members of the public reported that there were two people on Monday around Maclean Terrace, Stornoway and in Parkend with red tabards but it was for the Red Cross that they were claiming to be collecting.  They were wanting bank details for direct debit payments to help elderly people in Stornoway who can't get out and about.

However, legitimate charity collectors currently working in Lewis should not be confused with potential doorstep scams, say the Comhairle’s licensing department.

And Stornoway Police said on Twitter: "Reports received re doorstep callers operating in the area on behalf of charities seeking direct debit donors. This is a legitimate practice with the correct authorisations in place, but please remember ‘THINK’ ‘SECURE’ ‘QUESTION’.  For further advice see scotland.police.uk/keep-safe/. "

Comhairle licensing officer Iain Smith believes some people may have confused a potential scam with collectors who are known to be on the island, and who have been checked by police.

The group of five people, wearing red tabards, are collecting bank details to set up donations for the British Red Cross, Breast Cancer charities and for CLIC Sargent, the children’s cancer charity. Their details were submitted to local police and they have notified the Comhairle’s licensing department that they intend to collect for the remainder of this week.

The five work for a registered group, APPCO UK, which has offered fundraising services to charities since 1999. They focus on getting regular donors by signing them up to direct debit payments – long-term support on which many charities depend to support their future planning.

Mr Smith said: “This group did approach us, although there is no requirement for people collecting by asking for bank details to apply for a license. We passed their details to police and they have been checked and cleared with no criminal convictions. It is possible there’s been a mix-up in some people’s minds but this particular group of five, who are going door-to-door wearing red tabards, are legitimate collectors.

“Nevertheless, if people feel under pressure at any time, or threatened, they should contact Trading Standards or, in an emergency, the police. If you would prefer not to have such callers at your doorstep, you can ask Trading Standards for a sticker for the door and this deters legitimate collectors.”

Trading Standards can be contacted on 01851 822694.

Earlier Lieutenant Emma Newton of the Salvation Army centre on Bayhead said: “We were alerted by one of our workers who was told last night that a person in Marybank had received a call at their door.

"These people appear to be wearing red tabards or t-shirts carrying our logo, but we can absolutely confirm that they do not represent the Salvation Army, and the location that they claim to come from has no Salvation Army presence.

“We only collect weekly in the town centre, and our collectors wear full Salvation Army uniform and carry ID.  We have a two-week collecting campaign in September for our social work, but again we do not go door-to-door and we carry identification.”

Lt Callum Newton added: “Please do not give out personal and bank details at the door to anyone seemingly from The Salvation Army.

"Our uniformed collectors, selling the War Cry, are the only authorised Salvation Army collectors in the area at the moment.”

The collecting activity has been reported to police and to Trading Standards.

(This report has been updated several times with new information since being first posted)