Christmas shoppers are being urged to watch out for scams as they search for last-minute bargains.
Lancashire County Council Trading Standards bosses say the biggest risk of encountering a scam is when shopping online, particularly for electronics, and last year a number of people ran into trouble when buying from sites offering cheap mobile phones.
It’s vital to know your consumer rights and where to go for help and advice if there’s a problem
The sites disappeared with people’s money but without delivering the goods.
New laws which came into force on October 1 have strengthened consumer rights. If goods are not of satisfactory quality, not fit for purpose or not as described you may be entitled to a refund.
If there’s a problem it’s best to report it within 30 days of purchase in order to be entitled to a refund.
After the first 30 days the retailer can offer a repair, however the new Consumer Rights Act means that you only have to accept one repair and if the repair doesn’t work can seek a refund.
County Coun Azhar Ali, cabinet member for health and wellbeing, said: “It’s vital to know your consumer rights and where to go for help and advice if there’s a problem.
“The worst thing that can happen is to lose your money to a scam, so be wary and check any website carefully before making a purchase. If you feel something is not right, go and shop elsewhere – be particularly careful if an item being offered is far cheaper than you might usually expect to pay.
“It’s worth checking the wealth of information online provided by Citizens Advice and Lancashire County Council Trading Standard’s Facebook page Scambuster Stan.”
One consideration is whether you can still get a refund after Christmas on an item bought well in advance.
See www.citizensadvice.org.uk/consumer or call the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 03454 040506. ‘Like’ Scambuster Stan on Facebook to receive updates at www.facebook.com/StanleyDards.