‘Buy Safe’ Checklist

Although it’s difficult to be 100% certain that a website or seller you are buying from is legitimate, there are some simple things you can do to increase the odds that you’re buying from an honest trader. Here is National Trading Standards’ new checklist to help you buy safe online.

  • Look closely at the website before you hit the ‘buy’ button:
    • Try searching for reviews of the product or the seller – do these seem genuine?
    • Are there lots of spelling or grammar mistakes on the site? This can be a clue that a business is not professionally run.
    • See if you can find out where the company’s head office is based – and whether that fits with how the website presents itself.
    • Do they have a landline number you can call if there are any problems? Bear in mind that if the company is based abroad, it can be more difficult to get a complaint dealt with or return a faulty product.
    • Read the small print – notice if anything seems odd, repetitive or in incorrect English
    • Is there an ‘s’ at the end of the ‘http’ part of the web address, or is there a padlock symbol in the task bar? This means the website is using an encrypted system that keeps your details more secure.
  • Don’t be dazzled by a bargain: Are the prices incredibly low? If they look too good to be true, they probably are – particularly if some of your other checks have put doubts in your mind.
  • Be aware that criminals exploit high demand: When items like branded children’s toys start to sell out at well-known retailers, the void is quickly filled by crooks churning out poor quality imitations that can put children in danger. Don’t ‘panic buy’ from the first website you find – do your usual common-sense checks.
  • Report it: National Trading Standards needs your help to clamp down on unsafe products from abroad. If you believe that any online or face-to-face seller is selling potentially dangerous goods, or something you’ve bought has made you suspicious, report it to Citizen’s Advice consumer service on 03454 04 05 06.
  • Buying online for onward sale online? If you do this you are assuming the legal responsibilities of a business to ensure that what you’re selling complies with product safety and intellectual property legislation. For information about this visit