With energy, fuel and food prices on the rise, we’re all looking to tighten our belts.

Staying in the know about your consumer rights can make your money go further, writes trading standards officer James McCluskey.

Follow our top tips:

Do your research

It can be tempting to jump straight in to a promising deal, but do your research before you commit. Cheaper doesn’t always mean better, so shop around, get multiple quotes, look for reviews and ask for recommendations. If your purchase comes with terms and conditions, always read the small print and look out for hidden costs.

Hit the sales

Sales can be a great opportunity to bag a bargain, especially if it’s something you’ve been considering for a while. Some retailers or websites may tell you that sale items are non-refundable. While this can be true for a change of mind, don’t be fooled – sale items are still included under your statutory rights for a refund if it’s faulty or wrongly described, and online sale items are still subject to the 14-day cooling off period that you get for full-price goods. Be cautious of promotions that could be misleading and never accept a quote from an unsolicited call if they are immediately prepared to offer you a discount – the starting price might be much higher than that of competitors.

Family in a supermarket

Extra protection with credit cards

Purchases costing more than £100 on a credit card are covered by the Consumer Credit Act 1974. This means that, if something goes wrong, your credit card provider is jointly liable for any losses. As well as this extra protection, the incentives and rewards schemes offered by some providers will mean that, when used responsibly, credit cards can help to make your money go further.

Think twice about extended warranties

Have you ever bought an electrical item and found that the extended warranty offered cost nearly as much as the product? Some extended warranties can offer peace of mind at an affordable price, but be wary of companies selling extended warranties over the phone – they may know nothing about the product you have. We’ve recently had reports in North Yorkshire of vulnerable adults being sold multiple warranties for the same product. Before you commit, think about how long you expect the product to last, how much it would cost to replace vs the cost of the warranty, and remember that your statutory rights against the seller can last for up to six years if the product is faulty.

Scams

As always, be wary of scams. They can come in numerous forms and unscrupulous scammers are always looking for new ways to take advantage of consumers, especially during times when money is tight. Remember – if it looks too good to be true, it probably is!

To report a concern or get advice on your consumer rights, contact the Citizens Advice consumer service on 0808 223 1133 or on the Citizens Advice website.