As we approach Black Friday and Cyber Monday our Trading Standards officers are advising anyone buying online to be aware of the pitfalls that may turn out to be a disappointment or even worse unsafe.
Last year online retail sales in the UK hit a record £130.6 billion! It’s expected to remain high this year but not all line sellers are genuine and many are out to take your money for substandard or fake goods.
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There’s also many companies that increase prices before Black Friday and Cyber Monday in order to claim they’ve reduced them by a significant amount. You can check price trackers by using the Camel Camel Camel website or similar site to make sure you’re really getting a bargain.
There’s lots of other things that you can look out for especially scams where unscrupulous companies will use.
Here’s a few simple things to help keep you safe:
- Don’t be taken in by promotion or discount offers shared on social media – these can look inviting, but often link to “copycat” websites so fraudsters can steal your details.
- Look for reviews of the product or retailer/seller – and ask yourself whether or not they look genuine.
- Are there lots of spelling or grammar mistakes on the website? If so, that could be a hint that the business is not professionally run.
- Make sure the website has an encrypted address – this’ll show up if there’s a padlock symbol in the taskbar (where you type in the address), or if there’s an “s” at the end of the “http” part of the address. If so, this means that the website is using an encrypted system, which keeps your details secure.
- Does the company have a landline number you can call if you have any problems?
- Read the small print – notice if anything seems odd, repetitive or in incorrect English.
- Don’t be tricked by an impossible bargain – if something looks too good to be true, it probably is.
- Keep in mind that fraudsters exploit high demand – if shops run out of things like toys and games, crooks will step in and sell poor quality or imitation versions.
- Don’t panic buy – just make a few common-sense checks like those above and make sure you’re not handing your details over to a criminal.
Roger Mapleson, Trading Standards and Licensing Lead, “The first question to ask yourself is, “Do I really need this item?” Recently published research by Which? shows that over half of shoppers regretted their Black Friday purchases last year. If you really do need that new TV or coffee maker be careful and follow the simple checks above to make sure your money is well spent and you are not disappointed.”
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