POLICE are warning the public about aggressive charity canvassers after receiving several complaints from North Vancouver residents over the past few weeks.
"Someone has been going around and soliciting for a food bank," said North Vancouver RCMP spokesman Cpl. Richard De Jong.
"They're being quite aggressive in their approach and laying a guilt trip on, saying numerous things about how big your house is; your kids have food, so you should be helping us out."
The canvassers carry clip boards with several $20 bills displayed prominently, "so it looks like the guy next door gave," said De Jong.
But something just isn't matching up.
"We never solicit donations door-to-door or by phone in any capacity, ever," said Greater Vancouver Foodbank Society spokeswoman Kay Thody.
"It's a real shame. They're casting a shadow over initiatives that are really positive."
Thody remembers hearing about "fundraisers" from Single Parent Food Banks of B.C. in 2011 who used a similar approach, complete with the clipboard and $20 bills.
Her organization is frustrated because it aims to help single parents - women and children comprise 26 per cent of food bank users locally, and 40 per cent nationally - and interlopers threaten to undermine those efforts.
The food bank the canvassers claim to represent in the current rash of complaints is not a registered charity, said De Jong, making the charitable receipts they issue worthless.
Legitimate charities usually provide their fundraisers with clear, visible identification, said De Jong. Groups also need to get a municipal permit to solicit for funds door-to-door.
Thody says the food bank is fortunate that the vast majority of donors know it doesn't solicit telephone or door donations.
"Trust your good instincts," said De Jong. "Someone's appearance, the way they talk with you will give a good indication whether they're legitimate or not."
The RCMP is now investigating the complaints and is asking residents who come across suspicious canvassers to record their licence plates. If people are in doubt about the credibility of a door-to-door fundraiser, police recommend you ask for a mailing address to send a donation to after checking out the charity.
On a positive note, the evidence suggests very few people are involved in this scam.
"The physical descriptions that we have received are within keeping of two people," said Thody. "We're actively trying to eradicate this."
The Canada Revenue Agency lists all registered charities in a searchable database on its website, cra-arc.gc.ca.
People can get involved with the food bank by donating online or by cheque.
Thody encourages people who do receive door-to-door canvassers claiming they are from the Single Parent Foodbanks of B.C. to report it to her organization.