With Black Friday, Cyber Monday and the holiday season fast approaching, Powys County Council’s Trading Standards Service and Citizens Advice have released top tips to remind shoppers how to shop safely online.
The advice marks the start of this year’s National Consumer Week, which runs from Monday, November 14 to Sunday, November 20.
The annual campaign is run by Citizens Advice in collaboration with the Consumer Protection Partnership, which includes the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and Trading Standards.
Cllr Richard Church, Cabinet Member for a Safer Powys, said: “Across the county, purse strings are tightening and financial pressures are increasing every day.
“With sales season fast approaching, it’s vital we recognise the red flags when trying to bag a bargain in the run up to the holidays.
“Anyone can be a victim of a scam, and even the savviest of shoppers can be left getting less than they bargained for.
“You shouldn’t feel embarrassed if you’re caught out. By knowing how to shop wisely, and what to do if something goes wrong, we can better protect ourselves and each other.”
The council’s Trading Standards Service and Citizens Advice have offered these top tips to shop safely online.
Do your research
Before buying from a website that you have not used before, spend a few minutes checking it out
See what people have said about the person or company you are buying from by looking at reviews on different websites – do not rely on reviews the company has put on its own website
If you’re worried that something you have seen online might be a scam you can get help from the Citizens Advice consumer helpline – 0808 223 1133.
Be wise to scams in disguise
If a bargain seems too good to be true, it probably is
If it is branded but a lot cheaper than it appears on the brand’s website, it could be fake. It could be a legitimate ‘look-a-like’ product
Either way, it might not be the quality you were hoping for.
Ways to pay
Beware of a seller who asks you to pay by direct bank transfer. Bank transfers have limited protection if things go wrong, so avoid using them
If you are purchasing items with a value over £100 we would always advise you use a credit card to benefit from your Section 75 rights
You should only send and receive money through the online marketplace app or website using a debit or credit card, or via trusted methods of payment such as PayPal.
Know your rights
If you have bought from a retailer, you might be entitled to a replacement product or a repair of your faulty goods. You can even claim a full refund if you can prove the goods are faulty
If you have bought from an individual, perhaps via an online marketplace, you have far fewer rights. In fact, you have no right to return, so long as the goods are ‘as described’
Always be sure to take a screenshot of the description and be sure to check and double check before you buy.
When things go wrong
If you’ve bought something that is broken, damaged, unsafe, or not what you expected then contact the seller and give them a chance to put it right.
If that does not work, reach out to the Citizens Advice consumer helpline – – 0808 223 1133
Contact your bank or finance provider to see what assistance they can provide.
For information and advice, contact the Citizens Advice consumer helpline free on 0808 223 1133 or to contact a Welsh-speaking adviser call 0808 223 1144.
Alternative, call Advicelink Cymru on 0800 702 2020. Advicelink Cymru is a Welsh Government funded Citizens Advice service designed to help people who are most in need of advice services, particularly those who would not usually seek advice.
People in Wales can access the service Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm.