A warning has gone out to consumers in Nottingham to make sure they don’t fall victim to a festive scam.

Christmas is a great break for families but is also a traditional time for fraudsters to try to take advantage of the season of goodwill.

Nottingham City Council’s trading standards team has offered the following advice which should help ensure Christmas 2018 is remembered for all the right reasons.

This includes:

  • Thinking of having some work done on the house? Make sure you get three quotes before agreeing to anything being done. If someone says they can ‘do it tomorrow’, think carefully – they’re clearly not busy. Ask yourself why. Never agree to work being done by someone who is touting for business door-to-door, and don’t pay up front for work.
  • Feeling lonely at Christmas? Beware of dating scams – never respond to emails purporting to be from a ‘lonely heart’. Make sure you go through legitimate dating sites.
  • Looking to book a holiday in the New Year? Again, use legitimate travel sites – sometimes the photo on the advert is deliberately misleading.
  • Last-minute deals in town? Beware of ‘pop-up’ shops. Some have been known to sell inferior goods, such as cheap perfume, and it’s difficult to return faulty items. The shop should display a name and address of the store that you can write to – worth making a note of this.
  • Buying on eBay? Lots of great things are sold online, but take care when buying from unknown sellers. Auction sites are often an outlet for counterfeit or dangerous goods, and sometimes the goods don’t actually exist.
  • Don’t be tempted to buy cheap alcohol and cigarettes – Trading Standards is still finding examples of dangerous tobacco and alcohol. Don’t risk your health by trying to save a few pennies.
  • Treating the children to new toys?  Make sure they’re safe – they must display a CE mark, have instructions and warnings. Always make sure toys are age-appropriate, too.
  • We all love a bargain, but buying cheap alternatives doesn’t always pay.  Counterfeit or fake goods may not only be dangerous, as they won’t have been checked for safety, but their production is often linked to serious and organised crime.
  • New Christmas lights on the tree? Make sure you buy from a reputable shop, as festive lights can be very dangerous, and even cause fires. Always turn them off if you leave the house, or before you go to bed at night.

Councillor Toby Neal, Portfolio Holder for Community Protection at Nottingham City Council, said: “We know that people may be tempted by the thought of a bargain. But counterfeit goods are a false economy, often being of very poor quality and in the case of electrical items, can even be dangerous.

“These warnings from our Trading Standards team and worth noting and I hope everyone has a safe, trouble-free and wonderful festive period.”

Jane Bailey, Trading Standards Manager at Nottingham City Council, added: “We’re not trying to spoil anyone’s fun but this is important advice to get out to the public ahead of Christmas – precisely to avoid any problems.

“The key thing to remember is that if something for sale seems too good to be true, it almost always will be. Beware traders trying to sell you items you’ve not gone looking for – be particularly vigilant with door-to-door salespeople.

“And with electrical items especially, don’t buy cheap. Instead go to a reputable shop with a clear route of return of refund in the case of anything going wrong. Make sure all electrical goods have the required standards in place – often this will be in the form of a CE mark on the label or packaging.”

Anyone needing advice about something they’ve bought can contact the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 03454 040506.