When asked why they purchase counterfeit products, consumers say it is simply for the lure of the bargain. As eager shoppers wait to pounce on Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales they need to be aware of the counterfeit Grinches who want to entice them with promised bargains of their own. But these bargains are often not worth it in the end. Counterfeit products threaten our health and safety with everything from faulty wiring in electronics to antifreeze and uric acid in perfumes and pharmaceuticals.
In a recent press release, the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR Center), the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS), and U.S. Chamber of Commerce Global Intellectual Property Center (GIPC) report the market is flooded with counterfeit products being sold at stores, on street corners, and online. The most popular counterfeit products seized each year at this time include headphones, sports jerseys, personal care products, shoes, toys, luxury goods, cell phones and electronic accessories.
So how can you avoid purchasing counterfeit products and contributing to organized crime, gang activity, and other criminal activities? Follow these tips to make sure counterfeiters don’t steal your hard-earned money and holiday joy.
- Be familiar with where you buy your merchandise. Shop with companies you know and trust. Check for background information if you plan to buy from a third party vendor, or a new or unfamiliar company.
- Use secure websites for purchases. Look for the icon of a locked padlock at the bottom of the screen or “https” in the URL address.
- Before surfing the Internet, secure your personal computers by updating your security software. Everyone’s computer should have anti-virus, anti-spyware, and anti-spam software, as well as a good firewall installed.
- To avoid purchasing counterfeit products, carefully examine the products you want to buy for signs of missing information (manufacturing information, warranty, product codes, etc.), broken or missing safety seals, different or incomplete packaging, and subtle or obvious changes to a company logo.
- Keep your personal information private and your password secure. Do not respond to requests to “verify” your password or credit card information unless you initiated the contact. Legitimate businesses will not contact you in this manner.
- Don’t make copies of DVDs and give them out to your friends and relatives—even as gifts.
- Don’t download products from file-sharing services if you’re not entitled to them.
- Ask street vendors or discount stores that sell CDs and DVDs at bargain prices where they got the products and how they can sell them for such steeply discounted prices.
If we are going to reduce public demand for these counterfeit products and other forms of IP theft, we must sustain a coordinated response of prevention, education, and enforcement through both the public and private sectors. But the first step begins with the public. You have to Get Real. Don’t buy fakes.