Lancashire’s Christmas shoppers are being warned not to fall foul of fake products and online scams when looking for Black Friday and Cyber Monday bargains.
Black Friday is on 27 November and Cyber Monday is on 30 November, but sales are starting early and will continue in the run up to Christmas. The sales are likely to take place almost entirely online due to coronavirus restrictions on businesses.
Millions of shoppers will be on the lookout for bargains during these pre-Christmas sales, but criminals will also be trying to take advantage of those expecting to find offers which are ‘too good to be true’.
The county council’s trading standards experts are advising shoppers to do their research and follow these tips:
• Think about if the product is something you want, and is it the bargain it might be described to be.
• Never disclose security details, such as your PIN or full password – it’s never okay to reveal these details.
• Do not assume an email request or caller is genuine – people aren’t always who they say they are.
• Do not be rushed – a genuine business or organisation won’t mind waiting to give you time to stop and think.
• Listen to your instincts – if something feels wrong then it is usually right to pause and question it.
• Stay in control – have the confidence to refuse unusual requests for information
County Councillor Albert Atkinson, cabinet member for technical services, rural affairs and waste management, said: “Shoppers and retailers aren’t the only ones to recognise the potential benefits of these huge online sales days.
“Unfortunately, it’s also an opportunity for organised criminal networks to sell counterfeit items, and steal people’s valuable personal details.
“The internet is an international marketplace where anyone can be anonymous, and it’s up to each of us to make sure we take precautions to protect ourselves against the type of people we know are looking to profit illegally in this environment.”
The sale of counterfeit goods online is widespread. People purchasing counterfeit goods will probably find they are of poor quality.
Their personal details might be compromised and any money they pay for them could be contributing to organised crime. Buying counterfeit goods also impacts on legitimate businesses and their workforce.
To avoid inadvertently buying counterfeits:
• Make sure you check feedback on suppliers before you buy.
• Price is a good indicator – if the item is considerably cheaper than other sites, it is highly likely to be a counterfeit.
• Check that the site is secure and that full name and address details are available
• Remember that if you buy from a company based abroad it is going to be very difficult if not impossible to resolve any problems that might arise with the goods.
County Councillor Atkinson added: “Check who you’re buying from and make sure the company and the website is legitimate. Websites selling counterfeits often don’t look as professional, containing spelling errors and poor quality images.
“If you’re in any doubt, do a quick search as you should be able to find an address for the company. Look for contact details in case there should be a problem. Remember, if you pay by credit card for goods costing over £100 and things go wrong you should have rights against the credit card provider as well as the supplier.
“The website’s online payment section should also have an address that begins with HTTPS and displays a padlock or key logo in the address line to indicate you’re using a secure payment facility.
“Another key piece of advice is to compare the price of the product against other retailers and the manufacturer’s website. Don’t get caught up in the sales fever and buy in haste – if the price looks too good to be true you have to ask yourself whether it’s legitimate.”
For more tips on how to avoid being caught out, visit www.a-cg.org/consumer-advice.
For consumer advice or to report a matter to Trading Standards, contact the Citizen’s Advice Consumer Helpline on 0808 223 1133
To report fraud you can contact Action Fraud www.actionfraud.police.uk