As we enter the holiday season, shoppers will be bombarded with sales, commercials, promotions and even an ever-changing wish list from friends and family. Last year, the US government seized billions of dollars of counterfeit products before it hit the stores shelves. But – even those seizures didn’t stop the counterfeit trade, which is estimated to be in the trillions. While it’s true your sister might really, really want that designer handbag, you would do best to make sure it’s the real thing before put good money into it.
Why should you care?
Many people ask themselves – “Why should I care if that designer handbag is fake?” After all – no one will know and your sister will be thrilled. But there are some hidden dangers that lurk behind counterfeit goods.
- Some counterfeit products are dangerous. We’re seeing more and more phony goods, such as medications, baby formula, and pesticides and unfortunately, what’s on the label may not be what’s in the product. Since there may be no oversight during manufacturing, something labelled ‘aspirin’ could be white sugar, flour or even something toxic.
- If you’re purchasing a counterfeit product online, you don’t know how secure the company will be with your credit card number. It’s always best to use reputable sites and look for companies that have been verified by known organizations.
- You have no recourse. Suppose you purchase a counterfeit handbag and while your sister is using it, a piece of support wire pops through the bag and deeply cuts into her hand. She can go to the emergency room and she will be responsible for the bill. You can’t get a refund. And you may never be able to find who sold it to you to file a claim.
- It’s unethical. Let’s face it – abhorrent child labor practices are in full force in factories that manufacture these goods. Add to that the company isn’t paying taxes in your locality, so they’re not helping to get roads fixed or supporting your schools.
How to tell
Sometimes it’s hard to tell if a product is counterfeit just by looking at it. One great rule of thumb is that if it sounds too good to be true, it is. Nobody is going to sell this year’s hottest purse for $20 cash. And they’re not going to sell it on a street corner.
Another good test is to look closely at the packaging and information that comes with it. Counterfeit goods may either come with strange looking packaging or the information on the package may have spelling or grammatical errors.
And remember to check every website carefully before you make the purchase or give them your credit card information. Not only should the site be secure, it should provide you with information on how they guarantee security. This is usually in the form of a safety seal from a recognizable company.