BOGUS charity collectors are duping hundreds of people out of cash, prompting calls to speed up legislation on fund-raising. The Hong Kong Council of Social Service said it had received 374 calls since March last year from people worried about fund-raisers. Investigations showed 40 per cent of the collectors were bogus. But the true figure could be much higher. The council's hotline co-ordinator, Margaret Chan Sze-ching, said she believed the problem was under-estimated because many people paid without bothering to ask even the name of the fund-raising agency. 'People should be careful in giving out money. More people will take advantage of others and pretend they are from charity agencies as society is getting rich,' Ms Chan said. The fake agencies usually sent people to seek donations door-to-door in residential blocks, or mailed or faxed their donation requests to businesses. The chairman of the Association for the Rights of the Elderly, Kwok Lit-tung, said old people were a prime target. Many had poor memories and were easily cheated, he said. Mr Kwok said he had learned of cases where elderly people gave money to visitors who claimed to be welfare workers, saying they could help apply for more social security assistance. Ms Chan said most charitable organisations applied to the Inland Revenue Department for tax exemptions. The authority would check their backgrounds before listing them as an approved charitable institutions or trusts. 'People should check the background of the agencies and the objectives of the fund-raising,' she said. Legislators have called for tighter control of fund-raising activities to ensure money raised goes to the needy. The Government is proposing requiring charities carrying out fund-raising drives for more than $50,000 to submit audit reports. Assistant Director of Social Welfare (Subvention), Paul Wong Po-wah, said consultation with voluntary agencies, including the Tung Wah Group of Hospitals and Po Leung Kuk, had just been completed. 'We are rounding up their opinions. We will, before the summer, submit reports to related groups such as Legco's welfare services panel and the Social Welfare Advisory Committee,' he said. 'We hope to finalise a proposal on how to control fund-raising activities later this year. But it may have to wait for some time before it comes into legislation, depending on when we can get the time slot in Legco.' Public concern about accountability of funds raised for charities has been high since 1992 when only about five per cent of $4 million made by a television show for the elderly was spent on them. The organiser claimed the rest went on production and administration. At present, there is no specific law on such activities. Only events in public places need permits from the Social Welfare Department.