Chantal Baker, is the director and founder of Champ Consultants Ltd, an accountancy and tax consultancy practice in Caterham.

With internet shopping becoming much more popular nowadays and with many of us planning our Christmas shopping late at night while the kids are asleep, many are using the internet for shopping.

However, when buying things online you need to be sure that your refund policy remains in place and that your purchases are protected.

The following tips apply to goods purchased, travel bookings made and purchasing of things that may later need to be refunded.

Also, I have recently seen a new type of scammers who pop up on events and say they are unable to attend an event and have a ticket for sale. If you want to check that the seller really does have a ticket for sale, it may be worth asking them to see the ticket or check with the organiser that this person actually has a ticket.

The best way to pay for goods online is via credit card. Some say that you should really only use credit card payments for larger items, but I think that it is important to use your credit card whenever you can. If you use a credit card, you can still pay the amount off in full and not have to suffer the huge credit card interest rates. By paying by credit card, this means that you are instantly protected under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act. This great bit of legislation means that you can claim a refund from the credit card company if your supplier goes bust, if your goods do not arrive or even if your goods are faulty. The most important point of Section 75 is that the payment must be made directly through the credit card and not through a third party such as PayPal. Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act does not apply if you pay through a third party. However, some third parties have their own protection. Always check to be sure.

If you do not have a credit card, consider applying for one and look out for deals where the credit card company offers you cash back or some sort of reward.

For items under £100, you are able to use the ‘Chargeback’ scheme when paying by debit or credit card. The Chargeback Scheme is not written in law but it is an industry-recognised scheme incorporating American Express, Mastercard and Visa. There is a time period in which to start this process and this is within 120 days of making the payment. It usually covers a company going bust or goods not arriving.

Whether you use Section 75 or the Chargeback Scheme, it is always advisable to contact the supplier first before going to the credit card company for assistance.

When purchasing on online sites with multiple sellers, for example eBay, you may prefer to use PayPal. PayPal has a built-in buyers protection meaning you can claim a refund up to 180 days from when payment is made.

With the option of using a credit card, a debit card or PayPal, I would highly recommend that you do not use bank transfer when making payments. Even though paying by bank transfer guarantees the money arriving at its destination, it is very difficult to get your money back in the event of a dispute.

With Christmas ideas in the forefront at present, buying gift vouchers may not be an ideal gift at present. There is a risk of companies going bust and the use of gift vouchers may be worthless.

When shopping online, please always beware of scammers. If the deal looks too good to be true, it usually is.

Please always seek professional advice before taking any action.  We are happy to answer questions in future issues.  Please send your questions through the contact us page on our website: 

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Chantal Baker, is the director and founder of Champ Consultants Ltd, an accountancy and tax consultancy practice in Caterham. Please do follow us on the various social media channels.