The Internet and advances in technology have brought new levels of accessibility to consumers. Unfortunately, that means it’s now easier than ever to get scammed when making online purchases.
Counterfeiting and online copyright infringement have been on the rise over the past decade. There’s no shortage of brands suing for counterfeiting and online copyright infringement (see examples from Burberry, Hermes, and Tory Burch).
By 2015, the International Chamber of Commerce expects the value of counterfeit goods globally to exceed $1.7 trillion. That’s over 2% of the world’s total current economic output.
There are two types of consumers who purchase counterfeit goods online: the ones that know they’re getting a bargain on a knockoff and the ones who don’t. How can you make sure that you don’t fall into the second category?
Follow these steps to avoid buying a fake:
- If the price seems too good to be true, it probably is.
- Buy from a reputable seller who has recent positive reviews.
- Don’t be afraid to ask the seller questions, just as you would in a brick-and-mortar store.
- When buying expensive items, consider using an escrow account to complete the transaction. The escrow account will hold your payment and not transfer it to the seller until you receive your purchase, compare it to the photograph of the item you bid for, and confirm its authenticity. Commission fees apply, but you will be safeguarded against counterfeit goods.
- Do your research before buying. Learn any noticeable marks, stamps, etc. that should be present on authentic goods.
- Look for information about how complaints and returns are handled prior to agreeing to a purchase.