Age Restricted Products

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SPRING 2016 AGE-RESTRICTED PRODUCTS SELLING AT A DISTANCE Online and telephone sales how to act within age-restriction law In circumstances where a transaction is not face to face, assessing the age of a customer can be problematic. The law expects retailers to take reasonable precautions and exercise due diligence to avoid selling age-restricted goods to children, but what does that mean for an internet business? The following guidance should give some possible solutions. Local businesses carrying out their own deliveries can ask for ID and use the Challenge 25 approach Most transactions are carried out using a credit or debit card. Credit cards require the holder to be 18 by virtue of the fact that it is possible to accumulate a debt as regulated by the Consumer Credit Act 1974. However, debit cards and in particular Solo, Maestro and Electron cards are issued to customers as young as 11 by some banks. So the simplest step is to restrict sales of all age-restricted goods to holders of credit cards, although this would mean some lost sales to non-credit card customers. A more sophisticated system might carry out checks across a number of national databases such as the electoral register or credit reference agencies. This can be done in the time it takes to make a card transaction and may involve customer registration. Such checks might reject customers who have no credit history and are not on the electoral register. At present, there are a number of companies oering this service for a small fee per customer. Although these products have been developed to assist with identity fraud and online gambling, they can also be used for age verication. It may be possible for age checks to be carried out at the delivery point of the goods. This is likely to have limited use for major national companies, because most couriers are third parties and could not be relied on as a defence. However, small, local businesses carrying out their own deliveries are able to ask for ID and to use the Challenge 25 approach. Just make sure the ID is genuine, and only accept passports, photo driving licences and PASS Proof of Age Cards It is good practice to flag up goods that have an age restriction, and to require a customer to conrm that they are old enough to buy their chosen products. However, this cannot be relied upon as a safe ageverication system. SOPHISTICATED CHECKING Companies oering checks across a number of national databases for a fee include: l The GB Group l Experian Other companies may be available. Remember, it is the responsibility of the seller to ensure that goods are only sold to customers who are old enough. If in any doubt, the transaction should not proceed. Doing nothing is not an option. Credit: Brandon Cook Images: Gapchuk Lesia / Shutterstock l l Call Credit If further advice is required, your local Trading Standards service will be able to help.