When you plunk down your hard-earned money for a designer bag, watch or other supposedly quality product, you expect to get what you pay for. Unfortunately, unscrupulous counterfeiters are happy to separate unsuspecting consumers from their cash. Here are some tips on how to spot counterfeit goods and other luxury fakes.
According to the Department of Homeland Security, $78.3 million in counterfeit goods were seized in 2011. If the items had been genuine, the estimated value would have been $1.11 billion. The International Anti-Counterfeit Coalition (IACC) points out that the sale of this counterfeit merchandise cost 750,000 American jobs, and the black market industry continues to grow. Some consumers don’t care, but there’s the danger of identity theft when dealing with underground goods.
“Consumers can indeed find good deals on some new name-brand items and used luxury items,” says Paulette Scarpettie, President of the Connecticut Better Business Bureau. “If buyers aren’t careful, they may end up with poor quality items or hand over their credit card information and receive nothing at all.”
How you can spot counterfeit goods
Don’t be taken for an expensive ride you can’t fully enjoy. Begin by researching the reputation of a business before you buy any luxury goods. Check with an industry association, the Better Business Bureau or even online reviews of the business. If it smells funny, clap your wallet shut and run.
Become an eagle eye
Sure, that handbag or pair of sunglasses may look like the genuine article, but if you aren’t a connoisseur, you may be deluding yourself. Check out the IACC’s Counterfeit Gallery at their website and see some of the most common luxury fakes on the market. That Prada bag may not be a Prada bag. Learn to notice such things as sloppy stitching, labels that are miscolored, missized or crooked, or even misspelled. If the hardware or anything else within a product seems odd, odds are it’s a counterfeit.
Then there’s pricing. If the price is too low to be believed, don’t believe it. Online auctions are one thing, but if you’re buying something new in a storefront and the price is pennies on the dollar when compared with the price of an authentic piece, be concerned. The seller will probably try to pressure you into buying, too, so you should also look out for that.
Beware buzzword explosions
Too many words intended to signify that a piece of merchandise isn’t fake probably mean that the item is in fact counterfeit. “Inspired by,” “genuine,” “real” and “authentic” don’t need to be overused when you’re dealing with the real thing.
Don’t fund child slavery
If you think buying counterfeit goods is a good way to save, consider this. Many counterfeit goods are made in sweatshops where child slave labor is used. If you buy, you support the cycle of child abuse. Go to the Better Business Bureau and file a complaint with the Consumer Product Safety Commission if you ever come across a retailer you believe is trafficking in counterfeit goods.