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Consumer Rights Day – learn how to shield yourself online

Posted on: 15 March 2022

Almost nine out of 10 UK consumers have, at some point, bought something online – and now, on World Consumer Rights Day, Heart of the South West Trading Standards is advising people to find out how to protect themselves on the National Cyber Security Centre website.

This year World Consumer Rights Day (15 March) focuses on how digital technology is reshaping how we shop, bank, borrow, and access services like insurance.

The change has been sped up by Covid – it’s estimated that by 2024 more than 40 per cent of the world’s population (3.6 billion people out of 8.1 billion) will be banking online – and this means record numbers will be exposed to scams, frauds, phishing and data theft.

In the UK alone, the public spends around £2bn a week on online purchases and according to the Citizens Advice Consumer Service the sharp increase in online spending over the last two years has also led to a near doubling of complaints.

People are having a range of problems when shopping online, including issues relating to scams and defective goods, and concerns about parcel delivery.

The National Cyber Security Centre website is government funded and gives helpful tips and advice on areas including where to shop, using credit cards, personal information, suspicious emails and messages and what to do if things go wrong.

Janet Quinn of Heart of the South West Trading Standards said: “Now with record numbers shopping and banking online it has never been more crucial for the public to understand their consumer rights and the responsibilities of online retailers.

“The internet can provide buyers with great opportunities in terms of choice and convenience. However, at the same time, they must be wary and only buy from reliable sources to ensure quality and safety.

“Sub-standard electrical products for example can be hazardous, and Trading Standards advice to shoppers is to do their research before making an online purchase, particularly if it’s from a retailer you’re not familiar with; check a business out online, be certain who you’re contracting with, read the terms and conditions and any reviews and be certain about the businesses location. If you’re not fully satisfied, don’t buy from them.”

For more information on how to check if something’s a scam and what to do if you’ve been scammed visit the Citizens Advice website or call their consumer helpline on 0808 223 1133.

Find businesses approved by Trading Standards on the Buy With Confidence website.