A US woman spent three nights trapped inside a clothing donation bin after she claims she was pushed in, only being rescued when a passerby heard her cries for help.

Police in the New Jersey city of Paterson responded to a call from a member of the public on Monday morning (US time) reporting a woman yelling from inside the bin.

A 38-year-old was rescued and told police that she had been pushed from behind while reaching in to the bin on Friday, leading to three nights trapped as the mercury plunged to zero.

She was found to be suffering from frostbite and was taken to a local hospital for treatment.

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CBS New York reported that the woman was homeless and that police don't believe her claims of how she ended up in the bin, saying that this is the third time she has been removed from a clothing donation bin in the past three years.