The warning comes at a time when Trading Standards have helped Hampshire residents avoid purchasing a total of £10.6 million worth of unsafe and counterfeit products this year, thanks to batch inspections and sample testing at shops, markets and shipping ports.
Counterfeit goods are made with inferior or dangerous materials, whilst the profits made by rogue traders may help to fund criminal activity.
Leader of Hampshire County Council, Councillor Roy Perry, said: “We want to ensure that people do not get 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 surveillance across Hampshire at locations such as markets, and test unsafe and non-compliant products such as children’s toys and electrical items to protect consumer safety. In this way, we minimise the number of sub-standard and dangerous goods on sale, keep consumers safe, and help to prevent crime in our communities."
To remain one step ahead of the fraudsters, Hampshire Trading Standards are advising shoppers to consider these points:
• Prices - be ready to question an offer with a price which seems to 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.
You can report any consumer concerns to Hampshire County Council Trading Standards by contacting the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 03454 04 05 06.