With Black Friday, Cyber Monday and the holiday season fast approaching, Citizens Advice North Herts has released top tips to remind bargain-hunters how to shop safely online.

1. Do your research: Before buying from a site you haven’t used before, spend a few minutes checking it out.

See what people have said by looking at reviews on different websites - don’t rely on reviews the company has put on its own website.

If you’re worried that something you’ve seen online might be a scam, you can get help from the Citizens Advice consumer helpline

2. Be wise to scams in disguise: If a bargain seems too good to be true, it probably is.

If it’s branded but a lot cheaper than it appears on the brand’s website, it could be fake. It could be a legitimate ‘look-a-like’ product. Either way, it might not be the quality you were hoping for.

3. Ways to pay: Beware of a seller who asks you to pay by direct bank transfer. Bank transfers have limited protection if things go wrong, so avoid using them.

You should only send and receive money through the online marketplace app or website using a debit or credit card, or via trusted methods of payment such as PayPal

4. Know your rights: If you’ve bought from a retailer you might be entitled to a replacement product, repair or refund if you can prove the goods are faulty.

If you’ve bought from an individual, perhaps via an online marketplace, you have far fewer rights.

In fact, you have no right to return, so long as the goods are ‘as described’. Always be sure to take a screenshot of the description, and be sure to check and double check before you buy.

5. When things go wrong: Sometimes things just don’t go to plan.

If you’ve bought something that is broken, damaged, unsafe or not what you expected then contact the seller and give them a chance to put it right.

If you need further support, contact the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 0808 223 1133 or via the website.