Lancashire County Council Trading Standards Service is warning people not to fall foul of fake products and online scams on Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
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’.
County Councillor Albert Atkinson, deputy leader of Lancashire County Council, 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.
“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.
“The website 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 online payment system.
“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 this Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend go to www.a-cg.org/consumer-advice.
If you think you’ve bought fake goods please report the seller to Trading Standards via the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline 03454 04 05 06.