Are you planning on avoiding the crowds this holiday season? Is shopping online in the comforts of your living room your idea of a holly jolly good time? I don’t blame you. With a few clicks of a mouse you can compare prices, fill up your shopping cart, check off the gift list and be on your merry way! But buyer beware, the world wide web has a few people on the “naughty list” hoping to get their hands on some of your Christmas cash.
In the last 12 months, 793 scams were reported nationwide to BBB Scam Tracker regarding counterfeit products. A recent report from a local Meridian woman stated she purchased DVDs online through what she thought was an outlet store, offering authentic Disney movies at a discount. When she received the order, she realized they were burned copies with low-quality labels stuck on them. When she attempted to contact the company, she was left without a response or a refund.
While it may be hard to resist a great price, especially on name-brand high-end products, counterfeit items rarely have the same quality as the original. Commonly counterfeited items include logo merchandise like team jerseys and designer handbags, electronics, DVDs and CDs, jewelry, sunglasses, auto parts, perfume and clothing — but virtually any item can be copied.
To avoid accidentally purchasing a counterfeit product while holiday gift shopping, follow these tips from BBB:
- Shop on reputable websites. Go directly to the brand’s own website or through an authorized retailer. Double check the address bar and ensure there are no misspellings. It’s easy for scammers to create a fake website imitating a brand in an attempt to phish consumers.
- Beware of too-good-to-be-true deals. If you see an ad for an expensive accessory at an alarmingly low price, be careful. The steep discount may be because it’s counterfeit.
- Buy sports merchandise that’s officially licensed. You can find authentic licensed merchandise and official retailers and resellers on the official website of your favorite team or league. Authentic apparel will have the correct fonts, colors and spelling, attached tags will usually have hologram stickers, and there won’t be any loose threads or other signs of poor quality.
- Make sure your transactions are secure. Don’t purchase unless you’re sure the transaction is secure. Businesses that sell counterfeit goods may also have poor security. Look for “https:” where the “s” stands for secure and other trust marks.
Don’t end up with a lump of coal. As with any purchase, it’s important to do your research before hitting “Checkout.” If you’re unfamiliar with the business, look them up on BBB.org, read the fine print and always find out the return policy. Happy shopping and happy clicking!