WASHINGTON, D.C. — Ahead of the holiday shopping season, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Global Innovation Policy Center is raising awareness with consumers about the dangers of counterfeit goods and how to avoid falling for scams.
“Counterfeit products costs the global economy over $500 billion dollars a year. Disrupting organized crime behind the counterfeit trade is top priority and requires the business community, the government, and consumers to work closely together. The Chamber’s annual Shop Safe Campaign looks to help educate and protect shoppers from fake goods,” said Kasie Brill, Executive Director of Brand Protection at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
“Whether it’s a fake toy with toxic paint, contaminated cosmetics, a winter coat without padding, or a phone charger that can ignite, these unregulated goods do not comply with laws or safety standards and can pose a serious threat to consumers’ health and safety. Unsuspecting shoppers must be vigilant,” Brill said.
To avoid being scammed GIPC has 10 tips to help consumers shop safe this holiday season:
- Trust Your Instincts.
If it’s too good to be true, it probably is.
- Insist on secure transactions.
When doing business online, make sure your payments are submitted via websites beginning with https:// (the “s” stands for secure) and look for a lock symbol at the bottom of your browser.
- Watch for missing sales tax charges.
Businesses trading in counterfeit goods often do not report their sales to financial authorities
- 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.
- Be particularly careful purchasing medicine online.
Reports suggest that 96% of online pharmacies do not meet safety or legal standards, so it is especially important that you remain vigilant when buying your medicines online.
- Be vigilant when buying abroad.
When shopping on international websites, look for trusted vendors that use identifiable privacy and security safeguards and have legitimate addresses.
- Guard your personal information.
Illicit websites often install malware that can steal your credit card information and other information stored on your computer.
- Scrutinize labels, packaging, and contents.
Look for missing or expired “use by” dates, broken or missing safety seals, missing warranty information, or otherwise unusual packaging.
- Report fake products.
Report unsafe products to the Consumer Product Safety Commission by calling 800-638-2772 or by visiting their website, https://www.saferproducts.gov/.
If you suspect you have received a fake, counterfeit or substandard product, report it to the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center at https://www.iprcenter.gov/referral/view or to your local law enforcement.
- Spread the word.
Share these tips! Teach your family, friends, and coworkers about counterfeits.
“Holiday shopping is now done almost exclusively online, with counterfeiters keeping a close watch on the hottest gifts,” said Steve Francis, IPR Center Director. “This is a timely opportunity to step up efforts to seize fake goods while informing, educating and protecting American consumers.”
It’s clear that counterfeit products erode consumers’ trust in legitimate products. But counterfeit goods also undermine innovation, one of the largest drivers of economic development. Shoddy goods made by criminal organizations rob businesses of the ability to promote their own authentic innovation.
“As the parents of three sons, we started our company to create a solution to make playtime easier to clean up. We developed and patented an organizational solution that accomplished just that - “Play for hours…cleanup in seconds ®”! But as our company grew and our markets expanded, we found countless knock-offs of our patented products,” said Amy Fazackerley, CEO and Founder of Lay-n-Go. “For small businesses, these counterfeits could truly break you. They become a distraction to your business focus, take away hard-earned sales dollars, and damage the brand name you spent years building. These knock-offs often cause complete consumer confusion. In our case, the consumer thinks they are purchasing an original Lay-n-Go ®, because they use our copyrighted images and patented design, only to be disappointed when they receive a cheap infringing knock-off version.”
To find out more, visit the #ShopSafe campaign site.