Americans are increasingly taking to the web to check items off their gift lists, and this holiday season is no exception. Morning Consult recently conducted a poll showing that 60% of online shoppers will purchase clothing, electronics, personal care products and luxury goods for the holiday season.
And while consumers will most certainly seek the best deals, many will end up with more than they bargained for: dangerous fake goods. Hoverboard housefires, lead-laden toys, and harmful counterfeit cosmetics are just a few examples that have dominated recent headlines.
A Big Threat
In April 2016, David Hirschmann, president and CEO of the Global Intellectual Property Center at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, testified before Congress about the real dangers of counterfeit goods and the impacts to consumers:
“Often today’s consumers are unknowingly paying top dollar for fakes. If even one toy placed in your child’s hands is counterfeit and can threaten your child’s safety, it is one too many. Thankfully, the Office of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) have seized thousands of fake or illegitimate toys that will not end up in the hands of a child. But, they can’t seize them all and it takes only one to cause harm.”
But the threats don’t stop there: Sites selling counterfeit goods are also likely to expose shoppers’ devices to harmful malware or exploit their personal financial information.
A Big, Bad Business
New data from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce shows that the global trade in counterfeit goods has nearly doubled in value since 2008 – amounting to $461 billion annually. That’s more than double the 2014 profits of the world’s top ten companies, combined.
What’s worse, the funds from the sale of counterfeit goods also prop up crime rings and even have links to terrorist groups.
A Big Miss
U.S. customs officials are working around the clock to crack down on counterfeiters who prey on the public. But, customs authorities are only seizing as little as 2.5% of the value of total estimated counterfeits- just a drop in the bucket of the fakes being trafficked across borders.
Consumers shouldn’t let counterfeiters rob them of their holiday cheer. Below are some tips to help buyers shop safe and secure the authentic goods on all their wish lists.