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The real cost of a bargain

It’s that time of year when fraudsters are out to take advantage of unsuspecting shoppers trying to bag a Christmas bargain.

Each year, the fake goods get harder to spot as the fraudsters get better at their art.

The Border Force, which searches goods entering the UK warn that, although the goods might look like the real thing, counterfeit toys, electronics and even clothing are a safety risk because they have not been through the rigorous testing that genuine items are subject to.

Toys have been found with screws sticking out of them, presenting obvious choking hazards and plastic toys have been found to contain chemicals that can cause harm and even damage the reproductive system.

Fake hair straighteners, smart TV boxes and hair dryers have been known to overheat and start a fire. While fake lithium-ion batteries for mobile phones and computers, which are also popular money spinners for fraudsters have been known to self-combust or explode.

Electrical Safety First, an organisation dedicated to reducing the number of injuries and deaths across the UK, warns that 30% of the people they surveyed had been conned into buying a counterfeit electrical item that had been advertised as genuine.

Diane Parker, head of personal injury at Atherton Godfrey, warns: “Under the Consumer Protection Act, you are legally protected against injury or damage caused by faulty goods – but there are no statutory rights attached to fake items, whether you knowingly bought a fake or were duped into buying it.”

If you think you have bought counterfeit goods you should contact your local Trading Standards who will investigate. You are unlikely to obtain a refund from the seller, but by reporting it, you could prevent someone from suffering serious injury.

How can you spot a fake?
• Is the price unusually low?
• Is the spelling on labels and packaging correct?
• Is the packaging up to standard?
• Does the logo look right?
• Do tags match?

If you have a smartphone you can use a scanner app to see if the barcode is real.

Finally, trust your instinct – if it seems too good to be true, then it’s probably is – remember the old adage, buy cheap, buy twice.

Author: Gail Harris

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