Unfair Trading Practices embrace various deceptive, fraudulent or unethical methods to obtain business including misrepresentation, false advertising, coercive or aggressive selling, discrimination, identity theft and other acts that are declared unlawful by statute


A scam is an attempt by a person or organisation to mislead you into giving them money by telling you something which is not true, They take the form of bogus and fraudulent offers sent by post, telephone or email.

There are many different types of scam but the one thing they all have in common is that they offer something that seems too good to be true. If you are confronted by something that you suspect may be a scam, then always consider the following before doing anything else:

  • If something seems too good to be true, it probably is
  • Where is the offer from? Do you have an address?
  • Don't give away personal details about yourself
  • Never EVER pay in advance for some promise of a huge payoff in the future.

If you're not sure whether or not something is a scam, you should always contact Citizens Advice Consumer Service for guidance.

It is estimated that there are now more than 5 million incidents of fraud in England and Wales every year which shows how lucrative this criminal line of work is. Fraudsters are always looking for new ways to con money out of the public.

Comprehensive details of scams including how to spot them aand what to do if you are a victim, can be found at the following links:


When you purchase goods or services you are protected from being treated differently from anyone else on the basis of the following characteristics:

  • Sex
  • Race
  • Age
  • Gender reassignment
  • Disability
  • Sexual orientation
  • Pregnancy and maternity
  • Religion or belief

A comprehensive guide to consumer discrimination in the provision of goods and services and how to take action if you think you have discriminated is available from citizensadvice.

Consumer Contacts

The Unfair Contract Terms Act 1977 and the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contract Regulations 1999 allow consumers to challenge terms in any contract they've signed or entered into if a term seems unfair or unreasonable. They are particularly helpful when trying to avoid the impact of exemption clauses that try to take away your consumer rights.

Whether you realise it or not every time you buy something you are making a contract with the trader, whether in a shop, over the phone or on the internet. A contract is a legally binding agreement and may be in writing although most contracts, with certain exceptions, don't have to be written.

A guide to what you can do if you are worried about a term or clause in a contract is available from Which? Consumer Rights.

A comprehensive guide to Consumer Contracts and what to do if you think your rights have been infringed, is available from citizensadvice

Identity theft

Identity theft is a type of fraud which takes place when your personal details are stolen by someone you don't know and uses them to apply for credit or to open an account in your name. For more information go to the MyAdviceGateway page Identity Theft & Fraud.

Unfair Trading

The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008ensure that traders act in an open and honest way, giving you all the information you need to make free and well-informed buying choice as well as protecting you against aggressive selling techniques and misleading information about products and services. They also offer extra protection for vulnerable people, such as the elderly, children and people with mental health needs.

There is an outright ban on 31 specified unfair trade practices in the following areas:-

  • Falsely claiming accreditation
  • Price claims
  • Product / Service information
  • Promotional activities
  • Competitions and prize draws
  • Sales methods
  • After sales service

In addition the following practices are banned if they unfairly affect a consumer's buying decision:-

  • Misleading Actions
  • Misleading Omissions
  • Pressure Selling (including aggressive selling)

Finally there is a general ban on any other 'unfair commercial practice' intended as a 'safety net' to deal with any unfair trading practice not dealt with specifically by the Regulations.

A comprehensive explanation of Unfair Trading Practices and what to do if you think you have been a victim of unfair trading, is available from Which?.

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