Staffordshire County Council is urging people doing their Christmas and New Year shopping to get to know their rights and avoid scams.
Consumer laws were updated in 2015 and aim to give people greater clarity when they shop in-store or online.
The Consumer Rights Act clarifies consumer law and includes legislation to allow people to obtain a full refund on faulty goods within 30 days of purchase, an ability to challenge unfair terms and conditions or those that are hidden in small print, and an ability to demand poor services are redone or that there is a price reduction.
In addition, the laws cover faulty digital goods such as online films, games, music and e-books.
People can also take a few simple steps to reduce the chances of falling victims to scams and fraudsters.
Sales of counterfeit clothes and electrical items online have increased in recent years.
People should be aware that websites sometimes use a domain name that falsely suggests they are UK-based.
People should be particularly wary of goods being offered for sale on social media. Quite often these are counterfeit goods which are potentially dangerous and of poor quality.
Scam websites are often difficult to tell from genuine ones but there are some tell-tale signs people can look out for. People should be wary if the site:
• Offers are too good to be true, for example, the price of an item is markedly lower than the market rate
• Has no information about the identity of the person operating the business such as the proprietor’s name or the company’s full name
• Has no geographic address for the business, preventing people from locating the business in the event of a dispute
• Makes no mention of any cancellation rights
• Has unfair or restrictive terms and conditions which limit people’s legal rights
• Only accepts payments via money transfer services such as MoneyGram and/or Western Union
Staffordshire County Council’s communities leader Gill Heath said:
“Christmas shopping is now well underway and New Year sales will begin on Boxing Day so it’s an ideal time to remind people of their consumer rights and tips to avoid scams.
“Consumer laws apply to both in-store and online shopping so it’s a good idea to familiarise yourself with them.
“Internet shoppers are increasingly targeted by fraudsters and that’s why it is important people follow some simple safety tips while shopping.
“We want people to be able to shop with confidence online, stay safe and enjoy the festive preparations.”
Citizens Advice Consumer Service is the primary source of information and advice on consumer rights. The consumer helpline is 03454 04 05 06 and its website: www.citizensadvice.org.uk