Shoppers only have rights under Australian consumer laws if they're dealing with Australian companies, NSW Fair Trading Minister Anthony Roberts is warning.
His advice coincides with the Boxing Day sales, when thousands of shoppers will hit stores nationwide, or go online to bag a bargain.
"If you purchase from an Australian company that deals online and you have an issue or a problem with them, then Fair Trading can assist you," he told Macquarie Radio on Wednesday.
"But if you are giving your credit card details to someone in Guangzhou province, operating out of some warehouse in China, and that good arrives faulty then there's not much we can do for you."
Mr Roberts also warned online shoppers to be careful when handing over their credit card details because "you never know who you're dealing with".
However, he added, statistics showed about 70 to 80 per cent of the online stores people were buying from were actually Australian-owned and operated.
Mr Roberts also reminded consumers that shops weren't always compelled under law to refund or return.
"A lot of people are going to be out there today shopping, and also a lot of people are going to be taking those products back they have received as gifts... But people have got to realise that refunds are not unconditional," he said.
But, he added, if goods are faulty consumers are entitled to a new product or cash back.