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Online Shopping: Are You Getting Real Deals or Counterfeit Goods?

According to the Better Business Bureau (BBB), counterfeiting and piracy online has been costing the U.S. close to $250 billion and 750,000 jobs, annually, since 2016.

The Risks of Shopping Online

“Eight out of 10 Americans shop online. However, out of that, we are getting an awful lot of complaints. In fact, the [national] BBB received 2,516 complaints involving counterfeits. So we did this study just to see what is happening and how many Americans are getting taken advantage of online,” says Paul Myers-Bennett, VP of Marketing and Events for BBB, Southern Colorado.

Unfortunately, consumers believe they are buying the real thing, not a knock-off. They are spending hundreds of dollars for items that are worth less than $10.

Says, Adah Rodriguez, VP of Operations and Development for BBB, Southern Colorado, “A lot of these counterfeit companies have great websites that look professional, they have professional looking pictures of the item.”

Fashion is Where Scammers Get Most Consumers

Fashion items are among the easiest to spoof says Myers-Bennett. Many consumers think they are getting high-end brands at deep discounts when in reality they are not.

“Fashion and luxury goods that end up here in the United States, often here from China, about 25% of those are in fact counterfeit items, so that would be in fashion and luxury goods, whether that’s watches or clothing.”

Rodriguez adds, “Something [else] to watch for is counterfeit homemade goods. Businesses that claim that they’re selling something that’s homemade so they might charge a little bit more … either they don’t receive it or when they do receive it, it’s clear that it’s not handmade or not good quality.”

Protect Yourself: Do Your Research

In order to protect yourself from becoming a victim of one of these scams, do your research! Look into the company beforehand and make sure they are a legitimate business.

You can report a counterfeit operation or scam using the BBB’s Scam Tracker at www.bbb.org. You can also file complaints with the Federal Trade Commission by calling their hotline 1-877-FTC-HELP.

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