When shopping online or at kiosks, it is not uncommon for deal-seeking consumers to encounter counterfeit or pirated goods. While the typical discounted cost and the opportunity to get a deal may be enticing, purchasing counterfeit products not only infringe on the product ownership rights but also are not subject to government rules and regulations regarding product safety.
Counterfeit goods are often made of inexpensive cut-rate materials that may be a safety hazard. From designer purses to pharmaceutical products to movies and music, counterfeit and pirated goods can take many forms:
- Clothing and accessories — During the holidays or in the run up to special events, consumers often seek out deals on designed products, such as purses and handbags, shoes, and designer watches. While searching online, consumers can take several steps to ensure that what they are paying for is a genuine product and not a counterfeit or pirated item.
- Medication — High drug prices can often push consumers to search for prescription drugs or other supplements online. Consumers should beware of any drug offers from unlicensed pharmacies or from overseas. These products often are not what consumers think they are buying and can have dangerous additives or other substances in them.
- Music and movies — Pirated music and films abound on the Internet. Consumers should always bear in mind that any deal that seems too good to be true, such as unlimited downloads or DVDs, CDs or digital media files for unreasonably low prices, probably are. Consumers also should steer clear of Web sites that offer music or movies before their official release dates.
- Tickets — Consumers should beware of offers for tickets to sporting, music or other entertainment events where valuable seats, such as those on the 50-yard line or next to the stage of a concert, are priced well below what they should. Many ticket retailers have sites where consumers can buy tickets from other ticket holders.
Tips for Avoiding Counterfeit Product Scams:
- Consumers should avoid online sales where they are unable to closely inspect the product they are buying. Goods lacking warranties or, in the case of perishable products, use-by dates also should be viewed as highly suspect. Attention to detail often will allow consumers to tell the difference between a genuine product and a fake.
- Legitimate online retailers also encrypt their transactions with customers. Think twice before transmitting personal information, including credit card numbers, over any website that does not encrypt its connections.
- Consumers who believe they have received or purchased counterfeit prescription drugs should report it to local law enforcement immediately.
The National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center and Coalition Against Counterfeiting and Piracy have additional resources for consumers who believe they may have purchased a counterfeit product.
If you believe you have been a victim of fraud or would like to report suspicious activity, please file a report here.