New rules come into force today to help prevent consumers being ripped off by rogue traders or bullied by high-pressure sales tactics.
The Consumer Protection Regulations have been hailed as the biggest change to consumer legislation in 40 years.
They ban 31 types of unfair sales practices outright, including bogus closing down sales.
Prize draws and doorstep-selling also face new rules and traders will be banned from displaying false accreditations – such as wrongly claiming to be a Corgi-registered plumber.
A catch-all duty not to trade unfairly will also be introduced, closing loopholes that rogue traders have previously been able to exploit.
The regulations apply to businesses trading directly with consumers, ranging from hoteliers and builders to retailers and second hand car dealers.
The new rules will be enforced by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) and Trading Standards.
Businesses caught breaking the law face prison sentences and unlimited fines, depending on the seriousness of the offending.
Which? lawyer Chris Warner said: ‘This is good news for consumers as businesses will have a greater incentive to treat their customers fairly.
‘However, consumers will only get full benefit from the rules through strong enforcement.
‘Which? hopes the Office of Fair Trading and Trading Standards will act swiftly and firmly to bring rogue traders to account and any unfair practices to an end.’