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Shop Smart And Stay Safe Online – 15/11/2007

It’s National Consumer Week and with Christmas just around the corner the Trading Standards Service is offering some simple advice on safe online shopping.

Last year over 20 million people shopped online, spending more than £21billion, yet according to an Office of Fair Trading (OFT) report earlier this year, many of the shoppers surveyed were unaware of their rights. Over half did not know about their right to cancel.

With the number of online shoppers growing every year, the Trading Standards Service of the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment, is providing tips to consumers on their internet shopping rights and how to stay safe online.

When buying goods online in most cases you can cancel the contract within seven working days of delivery, for any reason, and return the goods. The trader should give you information about this seven day cooling-off period, including how to cancel and who is responsible for paying for the cost of returning the goods.

You are also entitled to a full refund if you don’t get the goods on time. The goods must be delivered within 30 days, unless otherwise agreed, and if this does not happen you must be refunded within 30 days.

The OFT report also found consumers were not always aware of precautions they can take when shopping online. The prefix “https” on a website address indicates a secure site, whilst the presence of the padlock symbol, when clicked on gives consumers more security information.

There are now also several websites offering advice on security, for example and, both government sponsored websites.

Kevin McNamara of the Trading Standards Service said: “It is worth pointing out that consumers have legal protection against online fraudulent use of their payment cards. Using your credit card to purchase goods costing over £100 gives consumers additional protection, as it gives you the right to make a claim against either the seller or the credit card company, if problems arise.

“Consumers can stay safe online by only giving out personal identification information, especially bank details, to trusted sources. Never give out financial details in response to unsolicited e-mails.”

For further advice on consumers’ rights when shopping online contact Domain Scams on 0845 600 62 62.


1. The main piece of legislation governing the buying and selling of goods and services online is the Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) Regulations 2000, SI 2000 No. 2334, commonly referred to as the Distance Selling Regulations.

2. National Consumer Week, which runs from 12 – 16 November, is organised by the Trading Standards Institute in association with the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment’s consumer advice telephone and online service, Domain Scams. This year’s theme is, “Shopping From Afar? Know What Your Rights Are!”

3. For media enquiries please contact the DETI Press Office, telephone 028 9052 9297.

4. Outside office hours, please contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number 07699 715 440 and your call will be returned.

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