Shop Smart Unbox Real Happiness

Scott Hall Scott Hall
Senior Director of External and Public Affairs, Global Innovation Policy Center, U.S. Chamber of Commerce


November 17, 2021


While businesses and law enforcement work year-round to fight counterfeit and fake goods, the holidays are an especially busy time for crooks. If a product is successful, someone is likely producing a counterfeit version right now to try and rip you off.

Besides the disappointment of getting something you didn’t pay for, counterfeit goods also pose a threat to your health and safety. For example, fake cosmetics often contain arsenic, mercury, or lead, imposter baby formula can sicken infants, and knock-off batteries can cause fires.

Just how big is this problem? On average, the worldwide trade in counterfeit and pirated goods amounts to over $500 billion each year—with more than 50 percent of consumers believing they may have purchased a fake item when holiday shopping.

Despite inventory challenges amid supply chain bottlenecks from the global pandemic, new data forecasts online holiday shopping to reach a record $207 billion in 2021, an increase of 10% from last year. Unfortunately, this online shopping boom could also usher in a rise in counterfeit and fake goods populating ecommerce platforms.

Consumers should be vigilant to avoid getting duped. Common sense approaches like scrutinizing packaging and trusting your instincts are a good start. But what more can you do to protect yourself from counterfeits? This holiday season, learn to shop smart with these ten tips:

1.) Trust your Instincts: If it’s too good to be true, it probably is.

2.) Insist on Secure Transactions: Make sure your payments are submitted via websites beginning with the https:// (the “s” stands for secure) and look for a lock symbol at the bottom of your browser.

3.) Watch For Missing Charges: Criminals trafficking in counterfeit goods often do not report their sales to financial authorities-a difference you may notice in the final price.

4.) Seek Quality Assurance in the Secondary Market: Reputable and reliable resellers have comprehensive inspection and authentication procedures and technicians to inspect the equipment they sell.

5.) Be Careful Purchasing Medicine Online: Over 96% of online pharmacies do not meet safety or legal standards.

6.) Be Vigilant When Buying Abroad: When shopping on international websites, look for trusted vendors that use identifiable privacy security safeguards and have reasonable return policies.

7.) Guard Your Personal Information: Illicit websites often install malware that can steal your credit card information and other information stored on your computer.

8.) Scrutinize Labels, Packaging and Contents: Look for missing or expired dates on perishable products, broken or non-existent safety seals, false warranty information, or otherwise unusual packaging.

9.) Report Fake Products: Report unsafe counterfeit products to U.S. Customs Border and Protection or the National IPR Center.

10.) Spread the Word: Share these tips! Teach your family, friends and coworkers about counterfeits.

Shop Smart Unbox Real Happiness

About the authors

Scott Hall

Scott Hall

Scott Hall is senior director of external and public affairs at the U.S. Chamber's Global Innovation Policy Center.

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