AS BLACK Friday and Cyber Monday are fast approaching, Citizens Advice Bracknell is urging people to stay safe while spending.

According to the organisation, their consumer-service branch faced almost half a million issues across the UK in the last year alone, with the majority of reports coming through during November - the month most closely tied to the shopping events.

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Because of this, the charity has decided to suggest some tips to the public on how to avoid problems during the sales, including buying faulty or damaged goods, racking up unexpected debt, or accidentally buying fake designer goods.

Callum Pirson at Citizens Advice Bracknell and District said: “At this time of year many people may feel the pressure to part with their money.

“It is important that anyone thinking about turning to credit or taking out a loan to help pay for purchases understands the full costs involved and if they can actually afford to pay it back.

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“If you are struggling with your finances, it is important to do something about it as soon as possible.

"You can get free debt and money advice from Citizens Advice to find a way forward and avoid spiralling debts.”

The Bureau warned if you want to return goods, shops aren't legally required to do so, it urged shoppers to check their receipts.

It also said online stores you will get a 14 day 'cooling-off period' by law. It begins when you receive the product and doesn't need to have a reason to be returned, to get a refund.

Also, the Bureau suggests you always ensure the website you are buying from is safe, legitimate and secure; to do this, the website could start with 'https', and have a padlock symbol in the taskbar -also keep an eye out for spelling and grammar mistakes, as well as a company that doesn't supply any address.

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Finally, the Citizens Advice also provided advice on how to stay on top of your spending over Christmas:

>Always spend time shopping around, researching what deals are on offer and getting advice.

>Always look at the total amount you will have to repay when borrowing money, and decide whether a long term, but slightly lower APR, is better for you.

>Take care when looking at buy-now-pay-later deals, as it means your payments will have to be on time every time, or the payment can end up being a lot more than you had originally bargained for.

>Never borrow money on the spur of the moment - think about payment options beforehand, and work out a budget and stick to it.