The Problem with Fakes
Protect yourself from modern-day counterfeiters
Finding brand name products at a great price can leave you feeling like you won the lottery, but there are hidden dangers that come into play if the goods aren’t what they seem.
Here are some commonly counterfeited items and what you need to know to protect yourself.
Commonly Counterfeited Items
- Currency. The U.S. Treasury estimates that there are nearly $9 million of counterfeit bills in circulation. While creating an excellent counterfeit $100 bill would seem difficult, criminals can trick you if you aren’t paying attention.
- Shoes & Clothing. Manufacturing a low-quality knock-off and slapping a brand name label on a shirt or a pair of shoes is a tale as old as time. It’s much harder to spot a fake through online pictures and videos than seeing and touching it in person.
- Collectibles. Watches, coins, jewelry and artwork are often faked and sold for far less than anyone should believe.
- Electronics. As technology continues to evolve, so does the ease of assembling electronics. Using cheap components and labor, companies can slap together their version of the real thing. This process cuts corners and sometimes skirts safety procedures that can lead to knock-off electronic products that can pose a hazard to your health.
- Replacement parts. Fake parts are common within the electronics and auto repair industries and are especially difficult to spot. Unfortunately, parts not produced by the original manufacturer often fail to meet their operational specifications.
How to Protect Yourself
Knowing that counterfeit items are out there is the first step to avoiding them altogether. These additional tips can help you avoid fakes and the damage they cause:
- Know the real thing. The best way to spot a fake is to know the real thing inside and out. In the case of currency, the new $100 bills have plenty of watermarks, different textures and a security ribbon that make it difficult to fake. For products, do your research to know the characteristics of the legitimate item before you buy. Clues often come from irregularities in logos, colors and packaging.
- Buy from authorized retailers. Shopping around for the lowest price is a wise practice. Automatically going with the cheapest option is not. If your purchase is important, stick to an authorized retailer or reputable vendor.
- Research, research, research. The more you know the product, the less likely you will be tricked. Look at products from local stores and read through reviews of online vendors. Conduct research on scams and common tricks used by counterfeiters. Be wary of reviews from the website you are thinking about making the purchase from. Instead, conduct a web search of both the product and the vendor to see what people have to say.
- Trust your gut. Remember that something that seems too good to be true probably is. If you believe an item is probably counterfeit based on the price of the item or the person/website selling it, you’re probably right.