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Domain Scams – Scam Alert

Scam Alert

Beware of buying fake goods online: Domain Scams – 09/12/2009

With Christmas shopping in full swing, a warning has been issued by Domain Scams about the dangers of buying counterfeit goods online.

Domain Scams, Northern Ireland’s consumer telephone helpline, has received an increasing number of complaints from members of the public who have bought fake goods online. The most common complaints are about GHD hair straighteners, UGG boots and jewellery, however consumers have also reported buying a wide variety of fake goods ranging from shoes to iPods.

Stephen Thompson, Manager of Domain Scams, highlighted the potential risks. He 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. Although a website may have a address this does not mean the trader is based in the UK. Often sellers are not only based outside the UK but usually outside the European Union, making it almost impossible for effective action to be taken by the Trading Standards Service.”

“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 should also be suspicious of bargains that seem too good to be true – especially extremely low prices of 50% or less of what you would expect to pay for branded goods. If you think the price is too good to be true, then it probably is.”

If consumers are thinking about making a purchase from a relatively new website they should exercise extreme caution, especially if prices are low and website requests pre-payment. Also, negative feedback or comments from other consumers often acts as a warning sign and there may be good reason to be cautious.

Concluding, Stephen Thompson advised consumers that if in doubt they should use the ‘Ask Howard’ search facility on the European Consumer Centre website ( He said: “The ‘Ask Howard’ feature will research a website for you and help you decide whether to use it. It will research when the website in question was registered and it will perform a Google search for feedback from other consumers. It can also be useful to do a ‘whois’ search to see where the website is registered. One site where you can do this is”

Consumers who suspect they may have purchased counterfeit goods, should report it to Domain Scams on tel: 0845 600 6262 or tel: 028 9025 3900 or log onto the Domain Scams website at

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