Online shopping is expected to soar this Christmas, according to a Mori poll published today, but its use is still hampered by a fear that the internet is fraught with risks.
The poll found 32 per cent of people are worried about online fraud, even though just one per cent of those surveyed had been a victim of this crime.
Almost a quarter were worried about the quality of goods and 14 per cent said they were concerned about whether or not the online retailer was genuine.
But the government has moved to reassure shoppers stocking up for Christmas that their concerns are unfounded, and says they can be overcome by following some basic rules.
Consumer Affairs minister Melanie Johnson said: "Consumers should use sites that have been recommended or those that they know.
"They should check that there are contact details. Reputable companies will have their phone number and address on their site.
"Keep copies of emails, order conformation etc. These can be printed off."
Johnson also pointed out that consumers have as much, if not more, protection when they buy online.
"People have extra protection under the Distance Selling Regulations and there are a number of ways of getting redress even if they buy from abroad," she told vnunet.com.
"Consumers don't have to go through an expensive process of redress. They can go to their local trading standards, the Office of Fair Trading and the Citizen's Advice Bureau."
She also said that the European Extra-Judicial Network (EEJ-Net) will give the increasing number of cross-border shoppers access to alternative dispute resolution schemes.
These include ombudsmen and arbitration in other member states through a network of national clearing houses. Further information can be found here.
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