What to look for to avoid buying counterfeit goods this holiday season

ByNydia Han and Heather Grubola WPVI logo
Thursday, November 9, 2023
How to avoid buying counterfeit goods this holiday season
According to a new study, 7 in 10 consumers have been deceived into buying a counterfeit product online in the past year.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- As you start to check off your holiday gift list this year, we have a warning. All too often, consumers are not getting what they pay for.

According to a new study, seven in 10 consumers have been deceived into buying a counterfeit product online in just the past year.

"Particularly during the holiday season, consumers really have to be careful that they don't get duped and wind up disappointed with the gifts that they're giving," said Frank Cullen of the Council for Innovation Promotion.

Just about every category has counterfeits, from luxury goods to electronics and toys.

According to the Council for Innovation Promotion, a bipartisan coalition that promotes intellectual property rights, bogus goods can be not just disappointing for consumers, but also dangerous.

"When you're talking about kids and the holiday season getting toys, there could be lead, or they may be made with other unsafe materials that could cause injury," said Cullen. "You might have counterfeit batteries that could explode or catch fire. You might have things that are made with shoddy materials. Several years ago, counterfeit contact lenses that were used in costumes actually caused people to have eye injuries. And in one case, you even had a child who went blind."

There are red flags that should give you a sign.

"Trust your instincts, but also go to those kinds of sites that are trusted," said Cullen.

On a new website, look for signs of a possible copycat like a misspelled word or a logo that looks slightly different or looks copied and pasted. And of course if the price seems too low, that's a sign.

"It absolutely is. You know, back in the day, someone could sell a fake Rolex for $25 and a consumer knew immediately it was not a genuine Rolex. But nowadays, counterfeiters have gotten very clever," said Cullen.

Fake merchandise causes huge economic losses, an estimated $500 billion a year worldwide.

"It's also jobs, approximately 325,000 fewer jobs in the United States as a result of the impact of counterfeiting," said Cullen.

And a lot of counterfeit products are produced using child labor or people in forced labor in unsafe and shoddy working conditions.

Congress is trying to address bogus merchandise.

Delaware Senator Chris Coons recently co-introduced legislation called the "Shop Safe Act", which creates penalties for platforms that knowingly sell counterfeit goods.