NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Clothing bins set up in parking lots are a pretty common site, and while you may think it all goes to charity, it turns out that might actually not be true.

As CBS 2’s Kristine Johnson reported, many people assume the contents of all bins go to help people in need.

Charity experts, however, said for-profit bins are counting on that and the donations they receive do not go to those who need them.

“People see these clothing bins and associate them with charity. But the fact is that more and more we’re seeing they’re for profit companies,” said CharityWatch spokesperson Stephanie Kalivas. “They’ll take the clothes, they’ll bundle it, then they’ll sell it either to a recycler or to re-sellers overseas.”

Kalivas said there’s high demand by overseas manufacturers for your clothing donations that can be recycled and reused as stuffing in products like furniture and mattresses.

Donators who spoke with CBS 2 News expressed outrage when they learned their goods may actually be ending up at a recycling plant instead of going to the poor.

“That’s very disturbing,” one woman said.

“That’s a major concern for us,” said Karen Meade, with Goodwill.

Copycat boxes are cutting into donations that reputable organizations like Goodwill, the Salvation Army, and the Red Cross all count on to help the community.

“For-profit companies began to realize this was a business opportunity for them and began deploying their boxes next to our boxes creating a problem,” said the executive vice president of services for Goodwill.

But you can tell them apart. It’s usually in the fine print written somewhere on the box. One such sign said “Clothing collected in this bin will be sold.”

“It could be very small writing and people might not take the time to get out and look around. They really need to take the extra step and figure out where are the items going,” Kalivas said.

Authorities are starting to take notice of the deception. One Long Island company was recently fined for deceiving consumers and ordered to make their intentions more clearly printed on its bins.

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