There is likely a correlation between the proliferation of counterfeit products and the popularity of those products by consumers. The desire to buy the latest designer goods at rock-bottom prices is the goal with most consumers. You might come across a retailer with a great deal on a designer handbag that you just have to have; however, this spontaneous shopping can often cloud a consumers judgement, and they end up buying a counterfeit product. The product looks like the original, but is missing the quality, safety and the originality of the designers creation. To prevent yourself from becoming the victim of this type of sales scam, we offer 10 ways to protect yourself from buying counterfeit goods.
10 Ways To Spot Counterfeit Goods
Inspect Labels, Packaging, and Contents
Look for indicators that might lead you to believe the item is fake, including inspecting labels, packaging, and contents. Things like broken or missing safety seals, missing warranty information, missing expiration dates, and/or unusual package that seems unfamiliar with what you know of the product. For larger electronics and appliances, be sure to check the serial numbers by visiting the manufacturers website. Although we never recommend buying medicines or pharmaceutical products from anyone other than a reputable pharmacists, you should inspect the size, shape, color, taste, and side effects listed on the packaging. Lastly, check the contact information on the packaging and compare to the information on the manufacturers website.
Buy From Authorized Retailers
You want to make sure the products you are buying were acquired by the retailer from a reputable distributor, and usually authorized retailers will use these legitimate distributors. Whether or not a retailer is an authorized retailer is relatively easy to find out by visiting the manufacturers website for a published list showing the authorized retailers.
Be Weary When Not Being Charged Sales Tax
It may not seem surprising, but counterfeit goods are often sold by businesses that do not necessarily report their earnings to their local financial authorities (e.g. the IRS). If it is an online retailer, sales tax may or may not apply and has to do with the sellers location and your location.
Determine If The Transactions Are Secure
This is one of the concerns many consumers have, and breaches have been making the news from large, well-trusted companies lately. You want to make sure the retailer is using a secure transaction process, usually indicated by the url having an “s” after the http (e.g. https://…) showing that the payment process is secure. When buying from a brick and mortar retailer, look for anything unusual with their payment processing machines that would indicate your credit card is not being compromised.
Seek Reliable Resellers
If you are buying online, make sure you browse the resellers reviews for any complaints that the seller is delivering anything that does not meet quality expectations. Reputable and reliable resellers will provide documentation that shows the product has been authenticated and when selling refurbished goods will have someone that inspects the product before selling it to validate that the product actually works.
When you find out you have been the victim of buying counterfeit goods, whether online or in-person, be sure to report any and all information to the proper authorities. Report unsafe products to the Consumer Product Safety Commission by calling 800-638-2772. If you suspect an intellectual property crime, report it to the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center.
Be Alert To Counterfeits When Abroad
You probably have heard countless stories of people buying fake products abroad. The regulatory authorities in these countries may not be as alert to counterfeits or harsh to punish those that sell these illegal goods. For those in the U.S., be sure to check out the U.S. Department of State for the latest travel alerts. If you are the unfortunate victim of counterfeit, it will be confiscated by U.S. Customs upon returning to the United States.
Teach Your Kids
Buying fake protects can be potentially dangerous for youngsters. Many unsafe materials are found in fake products, so it is especially important to inspect all kids toys and products your kids just have to have. Help them learn what is what, by offering advice and teach them about counterfeits when shopping abroad or online. Make sure your kids know to ask your permission before giving out personal or family information. Make sure you are always part of the purchase process so that you can not only teach your kids how to shop properly, and avoid being scammed, but also to make sure you are aware of what is being purchased.
Warn Friends and Family
Always alert your friends and family to dangerous or defective products. Word of mouth and using your social media resources can help spread the word and hopefully stop others from falling victim to scammers.
Trust Your Instincts
When in doubt, don’t buy it. Your initial instincts will help you avoid counterfeit purchases.
What are some of the things you look for online and in-store when shopping for legitimate goods? Share your tips and thoughts below.