From combustible Christmas lights to unsafe toys, Hampshire County Council’s Trading Standards service is warning residents to be wary of fake and dangerous goods when Christmas shopping.
Leader of Hampshire County Council, Councillor Roy Perry, said: “We want to help people avoid being duped into buying fake goods at one of the busiest times of the year for online and high street purchases.
“Throughout the year, our Trading Standards officers carry out regular checks across Hampshire, and test for unsafe and non-compliant products among a range of items including children’s toys and electrical goods to protect consumer safety. This minimises the number of sub-standard and dangerous goods on sale, and helps to prevent crime in our communities."
Counterfeit goods can be made with inferior or dangerous materials, and the profits may help to fund criminal activity. Hampshire Trading Standards has prevented nearly 136,400 unsafe and non-compliant products from being purchased by Hampshire residents this year, thanks to market surveillance inspections and sample testing at ports, markets and shops.
To remain one step ahead of the fraudsters, Hampshire Trading Standards has this advice for shoppers:
- Prices - be ready to question an offer with a price which seems too good to be true – it usually means it is.
- Toys - check that toys are suitable for the right age, are CE marked and have the name and address of the importer or manufacturer.
- Shopping online - look for signs that the website is using a secure, encrypted connection such as https:// in the web address. Look at the seller’s returns policy and search for reviews.
- Social media purchases – be wary of purchasing products via social media sites. It is notoriously risky as they can contain misleading advertising, counterfeit and unsafe products, subscription traps and many other scams, such as shortened web addresses containing malware.
Hampshire Trading Standards also recommends advice when giving and receiving devices that use the internet from www.getsafeonline.org:
- Protect new or pre-owned phones, tablets and computers with internet security software, apply updates as soon as you’re prompted, and perform regular backups.
- Change passwords immediately on new connected devices like voice assistants, CCTV cameras, appliances or kids’ toys, as this provides better protection than the factory-set defaults.
You can report any consumer concerns to Hampshire County Council Trading Standards by contacting the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 03454 04 05 06.