Cambridgeshire Trading Standards are offering festive shoppers help and advice to avoid disappointment on Christmas morning.
Many people turn to on-line shopping to take the stress out of present buying, but all too often customers are not sure exactly who they are dealing with or that what they are buying is a genuine item or in fact exists at all.
So far this year, the Police E-Crime Unit has shut down 2,000 websites for selling fake or non-existent goods. This follows the 1,800 similar sites closed down last year.
County Council Cabinet Member for Enterprise, Councillor Mathew Shuter, said: “There are a lot of fraudsters out there who are looking to have a good Christmas by ruining the festive season for others. This really is a case of ‘buyer beware’, but our highly skilled Trading Standards Team and Consumer Direct are there to offer help and advice to ensure that people have a very merry Chistmas and a Happy New Year enjoying their presents.”
People looking to buy ‘branded goods’ should visit the Brand-i website (www.brand-i.org.uk) first to find genuine online retailers, approved by the brands themselves.
People should also check that the website provides a UK postal address in case of problems and to check that the business is genuinely based in the UK by looking on www.nominet.co.uk for websites that end in ‘.co.uk’ or www.allwhois.com for sites which end in ‘.com’.
Fraudulent companies often use ‘co.uk’ addresses or UK postal addresses to mislead people and buyers should always ensure the website has a padlock symbol on the browser which indicates it has a secure payment system.
Trading Standards advice partner, Consumer Direct, is able to provide advice on issues with online or offline companies, on cancelling an online order or returning the goods, on how to claim a refund from a card provider for faulty or misdescribed goods or any other consumer issue. Consumer Direct can be contacted on 08454 040506.