Beware of counterfeit goods online

Tips on how to avoid buying fake products

ECC-Net regularly receives complaints from consumers who, either consciously or not, purchased counterfeit items. Consumers who buy fake products can be exposed to different risks such as:

  • The quality of counterfeit products is not guaranteed. They may pose safety or health risks to consumers. Toys, medicine and cosmetics may contain harmful ingredients.
  • Customs may intercept and destroy packages containing counterfeit goods. As a consequence, consumers don’t receive the order they paid for.
  • There is no one to turn to when counterfeit products become defective and there are no consumer guarantees for fake goods.

How to avoid buying fake products

Avoid falling into a trap and learn how to spot counterfeits online:

  • Check the identity of the seller
  • Search for other consumers’ reviews
  • Check whether the website displays a trust mark
  • Assess the general layout of the website
  • Check your consumer rights on the trader’s Terms and Conditions
  • Check the picture of the product and check it through Google lens or similar to see if it is a genuine product
  • Investigate the price of the good – remember, you will never buy a new designer product at a ridiculously low price
  • Check the official website of the brand for authorised and blacklisted sellers
  • Use a secure payment method only and with a credit/debit card so that you can avail of chargeback, if necessary

Report counterfeit goods

If you have bought counterfeit products online inadvertently, you would be doing a great service to others if you spread the word:

  • If you suspect fraud, report it to the national cyber-fraud or economic crime department of your national police (in Ireland, this is the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau).
  • Contact the official brand and inform them of the counterfeit products. As the brand holds trademark rights, it may investigate fraudulent sites and initiate action against fraudsters.
  • Alert other prospective customers through posting a negative review on product review sites, such as Truspilot, Google Reviews, etc.
  • If the product was sold to you on a shopping marketplace/platform by a third-party seller, ask the platform to investigate and help you recover your costs.
  • If you paid by card, contact your bank or card issuer to see if you are eligible for reimbursement through chargeback and get them to blacklist this seller.