DETI Press Release "Stay safe online with internet shopping tips"
This year 'National Consumer Week 2010', which runs between 20-24 September, focuses on advising consumers how they can avoid being scammed online or buying goods from fake websites.
Trading Standards is kicking off the campaign by raising awareness with consumers who may not be aware on how to check out whether a website selling designer goods or clothes is genuine or not.
David Livingstone, Head of Trading Standards, said: "At the moment, many of us will be particularly worried about our financial security and we shouldn't be surprised to see online scammers trying to turn this to their advantage. However, don't let this deter you from using the internet. As long as you make sure you know the warning signs to look out for and how to protect yourself online, you can enjoy the web safely, as millions of people do every day."
Stephen Thompson, Manager of Consumerline, highlighted the potential risks. He said: "In order to minimise the risk of purchasing fake products, consumers should always ensure they buy from a reputable trader. Although a website may have a .co.uk address this does not mean the trader is based in the UK."
"Often sellers are not only based outside the UK but usually outside the European Union, making it almost impossible for effective action to be taken by the Trading Standards Service."
If you are worried about shopping online, Trading Standards recommends that consumers follow these simple steps to shop smartly and avoid fake goods, scams and identity theft:
Know the Risks: Counterfeit products that contain dangerous components or do not conform to recognised safety standards could put your health and safety at risk. Scammers could send you low quality products, or no products at all.
Your personal details could be stolen and used for criminal purposes. Protect Yourself: Be safe, always use the "CHECK" list below to shop smartly to help you avoid fake goods, scams and identity theft.
Choose your shopping sites carefully: Many online traders pretend to be from a legitimate organisation - try to verify who they are. Click on Howard the Online Shopping Assistant at http://www.ukecc.net, or check the UK's register of domain names at http://www.nominet.org.uk
Help yourself - think price, place and packaging: If the price seems too good to be true it often will be. Think about where and how the goods/services are being sold - is there a postal address? Watch out for poor quality packaging, with mis-spelled words, no safety marks or mark of origin.
Ensure the site is secure (look for https and the padlock): Look out for the "s" in https which stands for secure. The padlock on the payment screen
is also a mark of security. Using a credit card for payments over £100 will also provide extra security. Contact the authorities if you spot something suspicious: If you are suspicious of the goods/services being sold online, behaviour and/or actions of an online trader, contact trading standards through Consumerline, or Crimestoppers.
Keep a copy of your order, website details and acknowledgements: Copies of the web page and your correspondences either electronically or on paper will provide evidence of your transactions if things go wrong.
For further advice about shopping online contact Consumerline on 0300 123 62 62 or log onto http://www.consumerline.org.