Don’t let criminals spoil your Christmas - Ford
Stormont Executive press release - Department of Justice
The public and retailers alike should take steps to protect themselves from fraud during the busiest shopping period of the year, especially online, Justice Minister David Ford has warned.
Welcoming a Consumerline warning about the dangers of buying counterfeit goods online, David Ford, who is also Chair of the Organised Crime Task force (OCTF), said:“Christmas is a busy time of year for everyone, including criminals who want to spoil it for many people for their own gain.
“Online shoppers especially should be aware that behind some flashy websites criminals are looking to cash-in on the December online spree. Fraudsters can set up legitimate looking websites to sell either counterfeit goods or no goods at all. Make sure your online shopping is safe and secure and remember to use only secure websites that you trust. If a bargain looks too good to be true, it probably is.”
Designer clothing and boots, jewellery, and DVDs are commonly counterfeited and consumers have also reported buying fake goods ranging from alcohol to perfume.
Turning to retail crime at Christmas, David Ford added: “Retail crime, whether it is shoplifting, fraud or even violent burglary, can have a devastating impact on local businesses.
“There are many local groups, including local Policing and Community Safety Partnerships, the PSNI and the Crimestoppers charity, as well as Trading Standards Service and Consumerline, who can provide good seasonal advice to local businesses which can help prevent crime at this time.”
Consumerline, Northern Ireland's consumer helpline, has received an increasing number of complaints from members of the public who have bought fake goods online.
Trading Standards Service echoed the Minister’s appeal by urging consumers to do a thorough check before buying online. Stephen Thompson, Consumerline Manager said: “Fake goods are not only poorly made, but in some cases can be dangerous.
“In order to minimise the risk of purchasing fake products, consumers should always ensure they buy from a reputable trader. A website may have a .co.uk address, however this does not mean that the trader is based in the UK.
“Consumers should always check for a postal address on a website. If there no postal address, then the trader's location is unknown. They may even be as far away as China, making it extremely difficult to seek any form of redress, if the goods purchased are in fact counterfeit.”
Consumers who suspect they may have purchased counterfeit goods, should report it to Consumerline on tel: 0300 123 6262 or log onto the Consumerline website athttp://www.consumerline.org
Anyone who wishes to report crime anonymously can ring Crimestoppers charity on 0800 555 111 or log on to http://www.crimestoppers-uk.org
Information on how to avoid fraud is available at http://www.nidirect.gov.uk/how-to-avoid-online-fraud
Belfast Telegraph Digital