(WHTM) – A lot of people are scrambling to complete their holiday shopping this week. But in this mad rush to grab those last minute items, be sure to buy the real deal.
âCounterfeit products are a huge problem and a real threat to the health and safety of consumers,â said Frank Cullen, vice president of US policy for the US Chamber of Commerce.
Around $ 500 billion is lost each year around the world to counterfeit products, in addition to hundreds of thousands of jobs lost. Cullen says consumers need to be vigilant, more than half say they think something they bought this year is wrong.
âCounterfeits affect all types of product lines – toys, electronics, luxury goods – if a product is popular, someone is going to try to copy it and scam a consumer. So consumers really need to be aware of the threat of counterfeits, âCullen says.
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You may be thinking what’s the problem? No one is hurt.
Besides the economic impact, counterfeits can harm you. For example, fake cosmetics can contain arsenic, mercury, or lead. And knock-off batteries can cause fires.
âThis is not a victimless crime. It can be made with poor quality materials, it can contain dyes that can irritate the skin and, of course, it can be produced through child labor or any kind of forced labor – and can support criminal networks, â Cullen said.
The pandemic has only made this problem worse and now supply chain issues are making matters worse. People can’t find stuff in stores and go online and buy fakes.
âVery often, consumers buy something unwittingly. Counterfeiters and criminals are smart, they will try to deceive consumers, so it’s very important that consumers educate themselves, âCullen said.
There are ways to protect yourself against buying counterfeits.
âOne of those things of course is trusting your gut – if something sounds too good to be true, it most likely is,â Cullen said.
Other tips include:
- Watch for missing loads. Criminals don’t report their sales to financial authorities, you might be able to spot it in the final price.
- Insist on secure transactions.
- Protect your personal information.
- Carefully examine the labels, packaging and contents. Check for things like expired dates, broken or non-existent security seals, false warranty information, and spelling errors.
For more information on counterfeit products and how to report them, Click here.