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Avoiding Fakes Online


If you suspect a product is counterfeit, don’t buy it. If you think a website is selling counterfeit products report the site to your local Trading Standards office.

Here are a few tips on how to avoid being caught out this Black Friday/Cyber Monday period. Together they should provide you with a level of protection that will help to guarantee a bargain to remember, for the right reasons:

Is this a legitimate website?

Check the company name, its registered address and contact details. Use a search engine to see if the company name and address actually exist. Is there a valid contact email address, phone number or contact form? Shop directly through the brands’ website or at a reputable retailer to avoid the risk of buying a counterfeit product. 

Check product/seller reviews

Search for online reviews of the product and the seller left by other consumers. Read them carefully and look out for any consistent or overly positive comments. It’s possible these could all be coming from the same source. If possible leave an online review or testimonial yourself for other shoppers.

Can the website be trusted?

Online sellers often display a trust mark to indicate that they have met specific quality standards and to guarantee a safe online purchase. Always check the trust mark’s website before making a purchase, to ensure the trust mark is valid and the seller has indeed been awarded this quality accreditation. 

Is it a professional looking website?

Websites selling counterfeit products often don’t meet the professional standards expected of a legitimate seller. They contain spelling mistakes, use bad grammar, display poor quality images of the products, logos and/or symbols used to identify payment mechanisms. 

Has the website listed your consumer rights?

Online sellers must clearly outline your rights as a consumer. Is there a complaints process and what are your cancellation rights? Who should you contact if there is a dispute relating to your purchase?

What is your legal guarantee and is there a returns policy? A valid returns address should also be provided. If the seller is using a UK website but the returns address is in China, then we recommend you buy your product elsewhere. 

Is the product image good quality?

Sites selling counterfeit products often copy product images directly from the brands’ genuine website. If the product images look grainy when you zoom in and/or part of the image has been cropped, then it is likely this is a fake site.

Is the price too good to be true? 

Sellers often try to fool consumers by advertising counterfeit products at prices considerably lower than the recommended retail price. If the price is too good to be true, it probably is.  Compare prices on other websites and look out for high delivery charges.

Official websites publish authorised sellers

Check the official brands’ website, they often publish a list of authorised sellers. If the website you are visiting isn’t listed, it’s probably selling counterfeit products. In some cases the brands also list black-listed website and these should be avoided at all costs. 

How to make a secure payment online  

To make a secure online payment check the payment page uses a URL address that begins with HTTPS and it display a padlock or key logo. Always use a credit card because it’s easier to get your money back from the credit card provider if the product is counterfeit. Never use a direct money transfer, this type of payment request usually indicates a scam and your bank probably won’t refund your money.

How to report counterfeits 

If you discover that you have bought inadvertently counterfeit goods, contact Citizens Advice 

About ACG

ACG represents more than 3,000 brands affected by this influx of fakes into the UK and delivers an international network of information, advice and contacts on all aspects of IP protection. Working with Government and law enforcement agencies since 1980, ACG is focused on providing an effective and sustained response to counterfeiting.

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Join now!

Membership with the ACG is the best way to work with government and enforcement bodies to protect your brand. Our Roadshows and training days help you reach out to police, trading standards and border force officers and tell them about your genuine products.

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