Last year, 1.8 billion people worldwide made purchases online. We’ve all become online shoppers, finding it easier than visiting the shops. There’s often more choice online and you shop around for the best deals, often massively undercutting the prices of the high street. While you’re surfing for deals though, it’s important to be sensible with your purchases, as there are a lot of fake or counterfeit products online, looking to con shoppers out of their money.
Knock-off products are appearing all over the internet, from eBay to Etsy and even Amazon. If you’re not aware of the risks, and don’t pay enough attention to what you’re buying, it’s easy to fall foul of scam products. You could accidentally purchase anything from fake sex toys made from unsafe materials, to knock-offs of designer handbags.
To reduce your risk of buying a fake product, it’s important to do some homework while you’re shopping online. Be aware of common signs that a product may not be genuine. If you’re buying on Amazon marketplace, for example, check the identity of the seller first. Is the delivery fulfilled by Amazon? Does the seller have a professional seeming profile?
Check the reviews from other shoppers. On Amazon Marketplace, Etsy and eBay, there will be reviews for you to check. If you’re shopping on a website, search its name to read reviews on other sites, and look for complaints about poor quality, dodgy products or poor communication.
Be sensible about prices. If a price seems too good to be true, it probably is. Look around at other websites to get an idea of the average price elsewhere. If the Marc Jacobs handbag you’ve found an eBay is a fraction of the price of the same bag anywhere else, there’s a good chance that the bag is a fake, or has something majorly wrong with it.
If you’re not sure if a product is real, pay using a credit card or PayPal, as these services may be able to refund you if there is a dispute over the authenticity of a product. This gives you some protection if a website won’t refund you.
When your shopping arrives, take a look at the packaging. A genuine brand will have their logo clearly visible on the packaging, so if this is missing, this might be a red flag. If the box has been opened, this is another sign that all is not what it seems. Check inside the box to make sure the product has any guarantee stamp or other certification that it should have. Is there a serial number? Verify it with the company.
For things like handbags or designer shoes, there should be some easy ways to check if the item is real. Check for logos in the correct places, such as in the hardware on a bag or somewhere inside on a tag. Do the materials feel right? Do your new trainers feel like cheap, imitation leather instead of the real thing? Does the hardware on your new handbag look cheap?