As Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales are set to begin, Scots have been issued advice to prevent them from being caught out by counterfeit or problematic products.
The country’s national consumer advice service, Advice Direct Scotland, has urged shoppers to keep their tips in mind when looking for bargains online.
Black Friday falls on November 25 followed by Cyber Monday on November 28, with many retailers offering cut-price deals in store and online.
But the charity warned that opportunities for bargains brings a risk of people buying counterfeit or substandard products that may not be safe.
Advice Direct Scotland also stressed that in many cases, if a deal sounds too good to be true then it probably is.
The charity urged people to avoid counterfeit products, such as cosmetics, which can pose health and safety issues and have a shorter lifespan than genuine goods from trusted retailers.
It recommended checking the packaging or manufacturing information as counterfeit goods often come in different packaging to the genuine article.
This may include spelling mistakes, a lack of safety marks and missing or vague manufacturer address information like postal or web addresses.
It added that shoppers should check for evidence of testing on cosmetic products and avoid anything untested, or unregulated.
When something is sold out online, there may be alternatives available elsewhere, Advice Direct Scotland said, and checking with manufacturers and purchasing goods from reputable suppliers and websites could save Scots time and allow proper recourse if things do go wrong.
Other advice included checking where the purchase is coming from, as consumer rights may differ if the retailer is based outside of the UK or EU.
Finally the charity said to not make unnecessary or unaffordable purchases and avoid purchasing if at all unsure.
Colin Mathieson, spokesperson for Advice Direct Scotland, said: “Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales are great opportunity for people to grab a bargain, with some amazing deals both in shops and online.
“However, it is important to be aware of the risks involved in buying potentially counterfeit or problematic items.
“It can be extremely difficult to tell the real from the fake, particularly when shopping online.
“We would encourage consumers to check that the goods they are purchasing are genuine, by following our top tips including buying from reputable retailers.
“And, as always, people should remember that if something sounds too good to be true then there’s a high chance that it is.”