masthead banner
Online Access

Avoid Buying Counterfeit Products Online

Authored By: Tyler Stevenson on 11/20/2023

Buying fake products online is a common concern for many shoppers. Often if an online offer sounds too good to be true, it is. Here are some tips to help you avoid purchasing counterfeit items:

Know the high-risk products. There are some categories that are more lucrative for fraudsters to fake. Top categories for fakes include technology, cosmetics, car parts, shoes, handbags, luggage, designer sunglasses, and most high-end fashion or lifestyle brands. The dangers of using a counterfeit product—regardless of if you recognize it as a fake—range from the item breaking, to electrical shock, fire hazards, and toxic ingredients.

Check the seller's reputation: Research the seller's reputation by looking for feedback and ratings on sites like the Better Business Bureau. Ensure they have a good track record of selling genuine products. Whenever possible, stick to well-known and trusted online retailers.

Beware of discounts. Be cautious if a product's price is significantly lower than the market average. Unrealistically low prices are often a red flag for counterfeit items.If the seller is offering a coupon or simply lower price, find the product’s current retail price on the brand website and see if legitimate, large resellers are offering the vendor-listed discount. If they aren’t, it could be a red flag.

Read customer reviews of the seller. Pay attention to reviews and ratings of both the seller and the specific product. Look for any complaints regarding authenticity or quality. But beware, fraudsters often use fake reviews. Look for lots of perfect reviews in a short time period of time, poor spelling and grammar, identical user or product photos, and similar wording in multiple reviews.

Look for official seller designations: Many brands have authorized seller programs or certifications. Check if the online seller is listed as an official or authorized retailer for the specific brand.

Examine the product design and packaging. Authentic products usually have distinct packaging and high-quality labels. If something appears poorly printed, misspelled, or has incorrect logos, it may be a fake. Missing certifications, use-by dates, and attached warranties can also indicate a fake. If you can, use a photo of the product from the brand website or, better yet, the physical item itself for a side-by-side comparison.

Use secure payment options: Always use secure payment methods, such as credit cards or trusted online payment platforms. These methods often provide buyer protection and make it easier to dispute a purchase if necessary.

Trust your instincts: If you have doubts about a seller or a product's authenticity, trust your instincts and err on the side of caution. It's better to miss out on a potential deal than end up with a counterfeit item.

Hopefully following these steps when making purchases online will help ensure you only spend your money on real-deal products!

Looking for more resources? Check out the Financial Resource Center. Think you may have been the victim of a scam? Contact us at 260.432.1561 or visit our security page.

« Return to "Blog"