The Christmas period is nearly upon us once again and we have reached the few weekends a year when city centre high streets and shopping malls are at …
The Christmas period is nearly upon us once again and we have reached the few weekends a year when city centre high streets and shopping malls are at their busiest. For some consumers, the event is a great excuse to get wrapped up in the magic and splurge their savings uncontrollably, but for others it is all about finding the best value around.
Another defining characteristic of Christmas are the hosts of deals and special offers that are used by retailers and manufacturers to entice customers and convince them their product is the only one worth having this festive period.
There is, however, a trend that that increases during Christmas that all consumers are advised to monitor very closely. The issue in question is crime. With more and more cash being laid out every Christmas, it is unsurprising that those who operate outside the law will look to capitalise.
This can be manifested in a number of different ways, such as products that don't meet safety regulations, counterfeit goods or even a scam where you never even receive your order. However, Cleardebt is here to help and the following are a number of pointers that will help you avoid crime this year.
The counterfeit market
Over the last decade or so, the internet has completely changed the way in which we purchase products. It is possible to identify a gift, purchase it and have it arrive at your front door all without leaving your living room.
However, a by product of this shift towards ecommerce means that the process is much more fragmented and there is obviously the concern of not being able properly browse a good before agreeing to buy it.
This is where the risk of mistakenly purchasing a counterfeit gift arises. This not only compromises quality, but it is likely these kinds of con artists will do everything they can to prevent you from getting your money back.
The extent of this problem has already been highlighted this year, with a huge haul last month at Dover's ferry port leading to more than £170,000 worth of counterfeit goods being seized. Although this sort of crime is something that has been going on for a very long time – this amount of fake produce being found in one raid is quite something.
Stick to what you know
It might sound like quite an obvious way to ensure what you are buying is the real deal, but keeping a close eye on the manufacturers and retailers that you trust could be the difference between a Christmas filled with magic and festive period that ends up full of disappointment and financial hardship.
We appreciate that it is sometimes very easy to have your head turned by an apparent bargain, however, with budgets more strained than ever before.
The effect on the alcohol market
Who doesn't like a little tipple at Christmas to get the party started? In fact, alcoholic drinks are among the most frequently bought gifts. However, whether you are buying for someone who simply enjoys the odd sip or a bonafide connoisseur, there are criminals out there who cannot wait to pull a fast one.
Counterfeit alcohol is at best a disappointment and at worst extremely dangerous. Many of these so-called suppliers simply come up with a substance that mimics the appearance of the real thing. It will no doubt taste completely different and include a host of substandard – and far cheaper – ingredients.
In the past, fake alcohol has been found to include ingredients like anti-freeze, ethanol and even petrol, which can lead to irreversible damage to the liver and kidneys, or in the worst case scenario an instant fatality.
When buying consumables, it is generally recommended that you stick to retailers you recognise and do an extensive amount of research on the signs of authenticity that will put your mind at rest.
The latest developments in the electronic market are often the most sought after gifts when Christmas comes around. Whether it is the latest smartphone, a games console or an appliance to make home life that little bit easier, it could well be the key to putting a smile on your loved ones' faces.
However, this is another area where counterfeiters can't wait to get involved. As is the case with any electrical product, they are subject to some very strict guidelines that are set by both the government and the European Union – but people pedalling fakes simply aren't bothered about this.
Searching online for the serial number of full product description of an electrical item before buying it is the best way to ensure this, giving the buyer peace of mind and ensuring you don't become embroiled in any kind of illegal scam.
So there you have it, these are some of the most prominent signs to look for if you want to ensure Christmas 2014 is a complete success for all involved. Keep an eye out, always be wary and most importantly, do your research!