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It is again the time of year when lists are being written and checked twice.  It’s also the time of year when I am made aware of clients and friends adding their names to the expanding list of those who have been caught out by internet fraud.

On their own list, the police have busted more than 1,000 scam websites selling everything from fake Ugg boots to supposed Tiffany & Co jewellery so far in the run up to Christmas. Over 1200 of these websites, run by organised criminal networks have been taken down.

Even with the credit crunch the value of internet sales by UK businesses rose by 36.6 per cent this year E-commerce now accounts for 9.8 per cent of UK sales.  The boom in trade has meant a boom in internet fraud.

Misrepresentation (of a fake as genuine) is a ground under the law for claiming against a credit card issuer, but the purchaser must have his eyes open and not pay an obviously wrong price, such as £150 for Rolex watch to claim.

If you have unwittingly bought a counterfeit product costing more than £100 and been unable to get redress from the supplier, you can make a claim against the card issuer.

Although credit card issuers are legally required to make recompense if a supplier refuses to, there are still dangers if you have bought counterfeit goods this way.

An even worse outcome is ordering online and receiving nothing at all.

When buying online make sure the company has a contact address and telephone number, not just an email and always keep copies of receipts, order details, confirmations, emails and other correspondence from the supplier.

Always check for secure payment facilities known as 'encryption' facilities to ensure your online transactions are secure. Normally a padlock is displayed at the bottom of the screen. Never send your credit card details via e-mail.

If you do receive your online purchase, but are not happy with it you are entitled to a seven day cooling off period under UK consumer law after the goods are delivered.

You are also liable to a full refund if the goods or services are not provided by the date you agreed, presumably December 24 at the latest. 

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