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How to avoid internet shopping scams: Consumer advice service offers tips on how to stay safe this Christmas

Scammers are hoping to take advantage of the increased number of people shopping online.

A campaign to help people avoid the pitfalls of online shopping has been launched as more and more Scots turn to the internet for their Christmas gifts.

Advice Direct Scotland’s Digital Xmas campaign is giving out pointers to consumers when it comes to their rights around delayed deliveries, counterfeit goods, returns, refunds and product safety.

More people than ever have gone online for their Christmas shopping because of the ongoing coronavirus restrictions.

Furniture and clothing are likely to be the main issues that Scots want advice on.

During last month’s National Consumer Week, around 40% of people who visited – Advice Direct Scotland’s website – wanted to know about furniture and homeware, while a third of queries related to clothing and footwear.

The Digital Xmas campaign will also provide advice on last dates for posting, food safety, travel arrangements, and what to do in an emergency over the festive period.

And with more people turning online and concerns about a rise in digital fraud, the service will also provide tips on how to avoid falling prey to scammers.

Advice Direct Scotland’s Colin Mathieson said: “Over the past year, Covid-19 has meant more shoppers than ever have taken their shopping online.

Colin Mathieson from Advice Direct Scotland.

“Online shopping has brought huge benefits for people and can save time and money.

“And by following our tips, this campaign will ensure that people don’t get caught out by bad service or faulty goods.

“Advice Direct Scotland has been working hard to ensure Scots know their rights before they buy and how to get the best deals on Christmas gifts.

“As the last dash for presents begins, shoppers should start their spree by visiting

and making sure they’re up to speed before spending their money online.

“Our top tips are shared daily through social media channels, allowing Scottish consumers to make informed choices for themselves.”

Lockdown scammers

Police have issued several warnings this year about telephone scams, with more people stuck at home because of the pandemic.

But these swindles are not a new phenomenon, in 2019 it was revealed that Scots are scammed out of £120million by fraud gangs every year.

In the north-east alone, £1.2million was stolen from vulnerable people in just one three-week period in 2018.

In May, an Inverness woman urged people to be on their guard after she fell victim to a scam involving text messages that were sent to her.

Julia Dingwall from Culloden became a target after receiving two messages purportedly from Paypal and the DVLA.

She clicked on a link but did not give any details, and thought no more of it.

However, several months later she received a call from the scammers, posing as the fraud department at HSBC, informing her of a £700 fraudulent transaction.

Thankfully, with the help of her bank’s fraud department, the money was recovered.

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