Trading standards - news

Alternate dispute resolution (ADR)

Want to complain about a purchase?

You can opt for alternative dispute resolution instead of going to court.

ADR is the term used to describe different ways of resolving a complaint that don't involve going to court. It is also known as mediation, arbitration, conciliation or a complaints board. Typically you ask a neutral third party to step in and act as an intermediary between you and the trader you're complaining about.

This person may:

  • suggest a solution to your complaint
  • impose a solution on you and the other party or
  • just bring you both together to discuss how to find a solution

ADR is often easier, quicker and more cost effective than going to court. Originations providing ADR are audited and must meet certain standards set by the regulatory body.

Due to recent change in legislation there are now 25 approved ADR schemes. Everything from retail and higher education to furniture and the motor industry are included. More information is available from the European Commission's website

Usually if you have a dispute with a trader outside the UK there is not a lot that can be done. The UK European Consumer Centre can support and advice UK consumers in dispute with a trader based in an EU country outside the UK. They can be contacted on 01268 886690 or UK European Consumer Centre.

Buying tickets online

Festival season consumers should be aware of where they are buying their tickets from.

Online ticket fraud increased by 55% and at least £5.2m was lost to ticket fraud in 2015 alone. Consumers are attracted by good prices for the events, where elsewhere they are sold out. On making payment they don't receive their tickets and the seller no longer responds to their correspondence. The nature of the frauds can vary, but it usually involves tickets being sold that either don’t exist or never materialise.

Some people are too embarrassed to own up to being scammed, while others decide to write off the loss.

A few steps to follow when buying tickets online:

  • remember paying by credit card offers greater protection than with other methods. It provides protection from fraud, guarantees and non-delivery
  • check the website for the company’s address and full contact details - if it is not easy to find, ask yourself why?
  • buy tickets from venue box office, promoter, official agent or a reputable ticket exchange site
  • ensure the site is secure - look out for the ‘s’ in https - a padlock on the payment screen is also a mark of security
  • beware of buying tickets once an event is ‘sold out’
  • contact the organiser of the event and ask if the seller is authorized by them
  • check ticketing forums to find feedback from people who have purchased tickets from the website

If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

If you have any doubts about the tickets you have bought please contact citizens advice bureau on 03444 111 306 for further advice.

Illegal tooth whitening

Trading standards warn you of the dangers of illegal tooth whitening practices. Teeth-whitening should only be carried out by a dentist or dental professional.

Many beauty therapists now offer a tooth whitening service. They provide self administration using pre-loaded trays and the beautician on hand providing advice. This is illegal.

Products containing less than 0.1% hydrogen peroxide can be bought as home treatments, but are not always effective.

In test purchases across the country, some kits had 300 times the legal limit of hydrogen peroxide. This can cause painful chemical burns. Long term usage could lead to possible lasting enamel damage.

Some didn’t list hydrogen peroxide on the ingredients list. They claimed to be peroxide free. These contained sodium perborate which releases hydrogen peroxide. This can cause amongst other issues, infertility and foetal abnormalities.

Please report illegal teeth-whitening. Contact Trading standards via the Citizens advice consumer helpline on 03454 04 05 06.

Your package has been seized

Consumers beware new scam email claiming to be from Royal Mail.

Fraudsters are sending out virus infected emails. If opened it can steal information such as account names, email addresses and passwords.

The email says a package has been seized by HM Revenue & Customs upon arrival into the UK. It suggests you have a potentially counterfeit item. It provides a .zip attachment with more information about the matter.

Do not click on any links or download any attachments and report it to Action Fraud.

Royal Mail will never:

  • send an email asking for credit card numbers or other personal or confidential information
  • ask customers to enter information on a page that isn’t part of the Royal Mail website
  • include attachments unless the customer has contacted Royal Mail with an enquiry or has signed up for updates from the same
If you believe that you have been a victim of fraud you can:
  • report it online on Action Fraud or
  • by telephone on 0300 123 2040 or
  • for advice contact the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 03454 04 05 06

Fraudsters harvesting signatures

Look out for rogue traders knocking on your door and beware unexpected parcel deliveries.

Fraudsters use lots of techniques to run scams. They commit different frauds depending on the type of personal information they steal. Your identity is a precious commodity. You should take every precaution to ensure that it isn’t abused or stolen.

Your signature can be the final piece. Once they get hold of it they can drain your bank account or commit identity crime.

In an interview, a convicted fraudster said, “If we want to get someone’s signature it’s really easy. All we do is put on a fluorescent coat or vest, knock on the door and ask the person to sign for a letter or a flyer. They don’t need signing for but nobody ever questions why and we don’t hang around for a chat! Once we have the signature we can make changes on their bank accounts and authorise fraudulent money transfers.”

How to protect yourself

  • not expecting a delivery? Be suspicious.
  • question what you are signing for and look for official identification. If you do sign, just print your name.
  • check your bank and financial statements
  • report anything suspicious to the bank or financial service provider concerned

If you believe that you have been a victim of fraud:

  • report it online at Action Fraud or
  • telephone 0300 123 2040 or
  • for advice contact the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 03454 04 05 06

It's a scam

Millions of pounds are lost to mandate fraud every month not just to consumers but businesses too.

What is a mandate fraud?

This is when:

  • fraudsters approach you via email, letter or phone call impersonating a familiar contact such as a supplier, bank or a magazine subscription
  • the fraudster asks you to change the sort code and account number of a usual/familiar payment or as a one-off payment
  • the payment goes through to an account controlled by the fraudster and the liability of the financial loss will normally fall with your company

How do I avoid it?

To avoid it:

  • always verify changes to financial arrangements with the person or organisation directly, using known contacts wherever possible
  • don’t leave things like bills lying around for others to look at and record details of standing orders and direct debits
  • if you are concerned about the source of a call, ask the caller to give you a main switchboard number for you to be routed back to them - alternatively, hang up and call them back using established contact details you have on file
  • check your bank statements carefully and report anything suspicious to your financial institution

How do I report it?

Report to Action Fraud online at www.actionfraud.police.uk or telephone 0300 123 2040.

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