Shoppers looking for a bargain are being warned to avoid fuelling the illegal trade in counterfeit goods this Christmas.
Border Force has told shoppers to take extra care about where they buy their gifts – particularly items parading as luxury brands offered at rock bottom prices.
According to the 2012/13 Intellectual Property Office (IPO) Annual Report, around seven million people per month visit websites offering illegal content in the UK.
With more shoppers on the hunt for a seasonal bargain, it’s important for people to stay alert around Christmas and know how to spot counterfeit items.
Spotting fake goods
Border Force says officers have so far stopped inferior fake goods worth millions of pounds from entering the UK in the run-up to Christmas. Examples of recent seizures across the country include more than 91,000 items of counterfeits detected at Heathrow Airport – including more than 22,000 various branded sunglasses and 2,000 items of fake jewellery.
Consumers are also being fooled by impressive looking online ‘shops’ which are apparently UK-based and sell products directly to consumers at discounted prices.
Fake goods are often sold at low and tempting prices. Be aware of buying goods that are far below the recommended retail price and always buy from reputable retailers.
As well as leaving you out of pocket, fake goods could also be harmful to your health. For example, fake sunglasses may not carry the correct UV protection for your eyes.
Reporting fake goods
A trader may have committed a criminal offence by selling you fake goods, or by giving you a false description or statement of the goods, and you may be entitled to a refund or exchange.
If you have inadvertently bought a fake good, you can report it to Trading Standards.
Your local Trading Standards department may not be able to get involved in your complaint directly, but it may be able to take action against the seller for you.
You can also report a website that you think may be selling counterfeit goods to Brand-i, a directory website in partnership with the Trading Standards Institute, which provides a list of all online shops selling genuine branded products.
For more information, see our guide on reporting fake goods.
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