Many websites contain inaccurate and misleading information that could put visitors at risk, according to research published yesterday.

Consumers International, which is made up of over 250 consumer organisations from 115 countries including the UK's Consumers Association, conducted its survey across hundreds of websites to determine the credibility of online content.

But its findings were shocking. Nearly half (49 percent) of health and financial sites failed to give warnings about the appropriate use of their information and at least 50 percent failed to give details about the authority and credentials of the people behind the sites.

"The results of this research are particularly alarming when you consider that the majority of consumers using the web are relying on it for credible information they can trust," said Anna Fielder, director for Consumers International's Office for Developed and Transition Economies.

"Consumers are being put at risk by misleading, inaccurate and incomplete information," added Fielder.

The survey also revealed that only 41 percent of sites that recommended products actually gave sources for their prices and 30 percent gave no contact address or telephone number, something which can be extremely infuriating for consumers.

Consumers International warns consumers to check a site's background before making any decision based on its content. It also calls for businesses to work toward justifying consumer confidence by adopting better practices and providing clearer information.

Ultimately the group believes that the job of creating consumer confidence rests with the government, which must ensure that existing laws in the offline world are applied equally online.