While shopping for bargains this holiday season beware of counterfeits

Earlier this week, The Tech Herald told you about a PriceGrabber.com report that mentioned consumers looking to save some coin this holiday season, by hunting for discounts and other savings as they shop. Adding to that, OpSec Security Inc. takes it a step further by reminding consumers to avoid cheap knock-offs.

As mentioned, PriceGrabber.com reported that consumers are planning to spend less this holiday season. In order to assure that their pockets remain somewhat full, those surveyed by PriceGrabber.com indicated price cuts and free shipping, followed by coupons and blowout shopping sales, as the expected route to overall savings.

This morning, an interesting press release came to our attention, which actually adds to the discussion of savings, by pointing out some things consumers should avoid in order to save a buck or two.

OpSec Security Inc., a firm specializing in anti-counterfeiting and brand protection, looked at B2B (Business-to-Business) trade boards, such as Alibaba, DHgate, EC21, Made-in-China and TradeKey, in order to spot the frauds.

On some of these boards, counterfeiters will advertise their products and manufacturing abilities, offering watches, clothes, and other consumer goods. Once the deals are made, the B2B market shifts to the B2C market, which as you probably know, the C stands for consumer.

In the B2B markets, OpSec said that sellers have been found to advertise specials and reduced prices to attract buyers. One listing, in digital cameras, mentioned a reduced price for the Christmas season “with sellers advertising non-brand name products that boast the use of Sony parts and technology.”

The watch category contained more than 1.3 million listings. Fossil brand watches had an average quantity of 206,000 units based on a random sampling of listings published to the trade boards. A majority of these offerings were fakes. Yet Fossil, similar to other time piece brands, makes a great stocking stuffer. If offered cheap enough, consumers might snag one.

“Fueled by the popularity of online shopping and an economy that pushes consumers to seek ‘too good to be true’ bargains, counterfeiting is quickly expanding into sectors beyond luxury goods,” said Tom Taylor, president, Brand Protection, OpSec Security.

“With the holiday shopping season upon us, it is important for consumers to protect themselves from purchasing substandard and potentially dangerous products. Counterfeiters will cut corners by substituting low cost ingredients, materials and parts that can be harmful, like urine or toxic materials in perfumes, and malfunctioning batteries or harmful materials in toys and electronics.”

With that said, here are six tips that can help you spot the fakes.

Buying online? Research the website:

While the Internet has given counterfeiters a way to reach consumers, it has also provided the opportunity for buyers to share information on whether or not a reseller is providing authentic wares. It is a good idea to purchase goods direct from the brand manufacturer, or a store or website authorized to sell that brand.

(Such as places like BestBuy, Target, Wal-Mart, and Bed Bath and Beyond -ED)

If you do choose to shop from an unknown online shop, conduct some research first on what people are saying about the e-commerce site. You may be able to determine whether the reseller is offering authentic goods or fakes based on feedback left from previous buyers.

Check the logo:

A common indicator of counterfeit goods is a misspelling or distortion to a label or logo. When purchasing a product, know the logo of the desired brand and look for any sort of variation on the product in question.

Research the product before purchasing:

When purchasing luxury goods, such as a watch or jewelry, knowing the features and design on the product is advised. This is especially important when buying from a reseller. Having a picture of the genuine product on hand is helpful in identifying suspicious attributes that would indicate that the product is counterfeit.

Research where the product is made:

Some luxury products are made in Europe while other brands are manufactured in Asia. Researching where a brand’s main manufacturing facilities are located can help determine the authenticity of a product. The Far East is a known hub for counterfeit products. If a brand’s manufacturing facilities are located in Europe, but the product is toting a “Made in China” label, this should raise suspicion.

Are there missing components and information?

Oftentimes, counterfeit electronics are sold without necessary and important items ranging from USB cords, instructions, warranty information, and missing serial numbers on the product or packaging. Checking all contents of the product before purchasing will decrease the likelihood of buying a counterfeit product.

Is it a legitimate model?

Some consumer electronic brands have an extensive list of models. Counterfeiters may attempt to pass off a non-existing model number as an authentic product. Check whether the product model is sold by the official manufacturer. If it does not exist on the manufacturer’s catalog or website, it is a sure sign it is a fake.

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