These days, fakes are everywhere. Designer clothes, watches, perfume, cosmetics, CDs, DVDs, computer software, medical equipment and supplies, and pharmaceutical drugs are all susceptible to being counterfeited. Product fakes are a booming business, as you may have realized from the news reports about the lawsuit Tiffany’s filed against eBay.
What you may not have realized is that counterfeits can be dangerous—counterfeit cosmetics can give you skin rashes, knock-off car parts may cause accidents, non-certified electrical products can catch fire or shock you.
How can you protect yourself? Here are three tips:
- Examine the quality of the goods you’re buying. Check labels and packaging for misspellings and poor logos. When you purchase an item on-line, check the manufacturer’s web site for pictures and details to compare to the item you’re considering, such as authentic marks like holograms, which are difficult to copy.
- Buy from merchants you trust. Even if you don’t have face to face contact, you can still check the seller’s bona fides. Review comments from other purchasers, visit the Better Business Bureau web site for complaints, review auction site ratings.
- Refuse to be pressured. Tell the seller you need time to make up your mind. Legitimate merchants don’t need to resort to pushy persuasion to secure the sale. They’ll be there tomorrow.
If you end up with a fake despite your vigilance, your first recourse is to contact the merchant. Be prepared for disappointment: Assuming you can find the seller, it’s unlikely you’ll get much satisfaction, unless the sale was a mistake and not a deliberate attempt at theft.
You can also file a report with the manufacturer of the real product or the Federal Trade Commission. You’ll still be out what you paid for the counterfeit item, but you may save someone else from getting ripped off.