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Trading Standards urge shoppers to beware of festive fakes

Photo: Press Association

With internet sales set to peak today Cumbria Trading Standards is warning online shoppers of the dangers of buying counterfeit Christmas presents.

Online shoppers nationally are expected to spend more than £940 million on Cyber Monday (30 November) - the busiest online shopping day of the year - an increase of over 30 per cent on last year, according to Experian-IMRG.

Thousands of websites have been identified as selling counterfeit copies of designer brands, including Gucci, Adidas and Mulberry bags. Every year low quality counterfeit goods flood into the country in time for Christmas and innocent consumers lose their hard-earned cash after buying from rogue websites.

Trading Standards are advising shoppers to follow these simple tips to keep fraudsters at bay this Christmas:

  • Only deal with reputable online retailers you know and trust.
  • If the goods cost over £100 consider using a credit card as this will give you additional consumer protection if things go wrong. But only use a credit card if you can afford the repayments.
  • Trust your instincts – if an offer looks too good to believe then there is usually a catch.
  • Ensure the payment system is secure – there should be a padlock symbol on the bottom right of the page and the website address should begin with “https”.
  • Check the URL in the web browser. Don’t be fooled by spoof websites where the fraudsters slightly change the address.
  • Conduct a “who is” search online which will tell you where a website is registered. If the website is registered abroad it may be difficult or impossible to claim compensation from the seller.
Credit: Press Association

“If you’re shopping online, watch out for unfamiliar websites, especially dodgy auction sites or fake sites. It’s always best to stick to familiar brand-name or retailer websites, otherwise you risk buying counterfeit goods which are poor quality and don’t meet required safety standards.

“Genuine items such as cosmetics, toys or electrical items, for instance, have to be tested and meet stringent recognised safety standards. Consumers can only be confident that items aren’t dangerous if they are genuine products.”

– Councillor John McCreesh, Cumbria County Council Cabinet member for Trading Standards

Trading Standards have teamed up with brand holders to provide self-help advice for consumers who are considering buying online. The ‘Brand-I’ website allows consumers to search for stockists of legitimate branded goods. If a website advertising the relevant goods is not listed with Brand-i, then the advice is not to buy as products will not be genuine. Consumers can also use the site to report suspicious websites that they encounter.

Brand-i is an independent directory run by Brand Information Ltd and supported by the Trading Standards Institute, so consumers can rely on it as a source of information. The web address is:https://www.Brand-i.org/

Anyone with information about rogue websites can contact Trading Standards via Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 03454 04 05 06.