Prevalence of Counterfeit Products in Online Retail
Published 7:10 pm Monday, May 27, 2019
From Better Business Bureau
An in-depth investigative study by Better Business Bureau finds that fraudulent consumer goods are ubiquitous, difficult to tell apart from the legitimate products they are counterfeiting, and stem from a large network of organized criminals and credit card processing mechanisms that are willing to support them.
“With online shopping being so popular and easy as a click of a button, consumers need to be aware of how prevalent counterfeit products are in online retail,” said Mallory Wojciechowski, president and CEO of BBB serving Eastern NC. “Nearly anything available online can be counterfeited, and research also shows that one in four people have bought something online that turned out to be counterfeit.”
The investigative study – “Fakes Are Not Fashionable: A BBB Study of the Epidemic of Counterfeit Goods Sold Online” – looks at the prevalence of counterfeit consumer goods and the criminal systems that circulate them. It digs into the scope of the problem, who is behind it, the multi-pronged fight to stop it and the steps consumers can take to avoid it.
The cost of counterfeiting affects not only consumers who lose money by receiving products not as advertised, but also the broader U.S. economy. BBB’s report finds that counterfeiting and intellectual property piracy cost the U.S. economy $200-$250 billion and 750,00 jobs. According to BBB’s report, 88 percent of counterfeit goods come from China and Hong Kong, with their smuggling and their online sale via fraudulent websites widely thought to be coordinated by international organized crime groups.
What to do if you believe you have unwittingly purchased counterfeit goods:
- Ask for a refund. Victims who don’t receive anything when buying online with their credit card, or who receive goods that are counterfeit or not as described, should call the customer service number on the back of their card and request a refund. The report goes into great detail about the process of obtaining a refund and the remedies available to victims.
- Report counterfeit goods. Contact one or more of the following:
- National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) asks victims of counterfeit goods to file a complaint with the IPR Center here.
- Better Business Bureau: Victims can file complaints at bbb.org about online sellers that claim to be in the U.S. or Canada. BBB tries to resolve complaints and may help in getting a refund. There is no cost for this service. BBB also looks for and reports patterns of complaints. Consumers can report scams to BBB Scam Tracker.
- Online markets: Victims can complain directly to eBay, Amazon, Facebook and Instagram or other online marketplaces. In addition, Amazon has an “A-Z guarantee” for goods sold by third parties on their site; victims who have purchased counterfeit items from a third-party seller can seek a refund here.
- Internet Fraud Complaint Center (IC3): The FBI takes complaints about counterfeit goods. Complain here.
- Federal Trade Commission: You can complain to the FTC by calling 877/FTC-Help or file a complaint online.
For more information, visit bbb.org/counterfeits.