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Counterfeit goods and dodgy food on the rise

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There has been a surge in scams, counterfeit goods and unsafe products in the market as unscrupulous sellers look to take advantage of the cost-of-living crisis.

The risk from scams, counterfeit and illicit goods, as well as false and misleading prices are on the rise amid the cost-of-living crisis, as Trading Standards revealed it seized triple the volume of counterfeit items in 2021/22.

Its data suggested “there has been a surge in a range of practices that are harming consumers”, as it reported a “major increase” in counterfeit goods, with Trading Standards seizing over four million products with a market value of £111M. This is three times more than the previous year.

These unsafe and non-compliant products included dangerous toys, lights and phone chargers and it also saw “a significant increase” in the amount of illicit tobacco as 14.9m cigarettes were seized.

Elsewhere, 7,000 businesses were found to have supplied food that was misdescribed or didn’t declare allergens or was “adulterated with toxins”.

Its data also revealed 17,600 scam victims were supported, and approximately £47m of money saved by Local Authority Trading Standards in 2021/22. Across England and Wales, £548m of “consumer detriment” was prevented.

‘Rogue traders exploit increased vulnerability’

Chief executive at Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI), John Herriman, said: “This latest research not only demonstrates the significant impact that Trading Standards makes to protect consumers and businesses, but it also suggests that our cost-of-living crisis is likely to exacerbate already high levels of detriment UK consumers are facing.”

Steve Ruddy, chair of the Association of Chief Trading Standards Officers (ACTSO), said: “It is clear that in this cost-of-living crisis, the risks to consumers from the safety of illicit and counterfeit goods, scams, false claims about prices, and energy efficiency are all growing. Trading Standards has a vital role to play in addressing all of these risks; demands are continuing to grow for what are already very stretched services.”

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