Don’t be a scrooge on safety when buying gifts this Christmas

Published: Friday, 6 December 2019

Havering Council’s Trading Standards team is urging residents to take extra care against possible fake goods and scams.

advice to avoid scams and fake goods
Be aware of fake goods and scams when buying gifts this Christmas

The advice comes as Council safety officers working with National Trading Standards colleagues at ports, recently helped to stop 13 batches containing around 16,295 Christmas and novelty lights without any instructions of contact details that were being imported into the country from China.

Examination of the lights revealed that there were no manufacturer or safety instructions with them, which raised serious concerns.

Almost 3,000 Christmas tree  lights – which plug directly into the mains were also identified as being unsafe, after being tested. These tests showed that if used the lights posed a dangerous risk of an electric shock.

All lights that were found unsafe will be destroyed.  Others will be sent for modification which involves having safety instructions and contact details before they can be considered safe to be on sale to the public.

Whether buying online, in-store or at markets, advice and tips are available to help residents to be safe.

This includes not being taken in by deals that might look like they will save them money or enable them to get the item quicker, but in fact, means they will end up with an unsafe present or no gift at all.

For safety consumer advice this Christmas, visit the Citizens Advice consumer information page

You can also call the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 03454 040506

Christmas stay safe guide

Product safety

  • Be aware when purchasing Christmas lights and electrical goods.
  • Always ensure the product has the CE mark and the manufacturer’s identity.
  • Make sure they have a 3-pin plug and instructions/warnings.  


  • Look for CE marking and manufacturer’s identity, which should be on all toys, from large toys to small “stocking fillers”.
  • Instructions for use and the age-appropriate warnings should also feature with the product.  

Fake goods

  • Many goods, from perfume to computer games are cheaper online or at markets, but beware of fake products.
  • Counterfeit goods that also include DVDs, clothing, electrical goods such as hair straighteners, jewellery and children’s toys, may appear to be a bargain, but often are not.
  • A sign that a product is fake is the poor quality.
  • Purchasing fake goods, even unwittingly, means you could be supporting criminal activity.

Buying online

  • In most cases when you shop online or via a mail-order catalogue, you have the right to cancel your order and receive a full refund in addition to your normal statutory rights.
  • You would have 14 days to cancel, but make sure to print and save details of your order including reference number, trader/company name, address and contact numbers/email address.
  • Beware of fake websites that often look like they are real, particularly when ordering designer goods, seek advice on how to check if the site is genuine.
  • If a deal looks like it is too good to be true, then it probably is.