counterfeits, counterfeiting, knock-offs, replicas, fakes

Combating Counterfeiting with Consumer Awareness

Counterfeited items, mostly coming from China, are a global problem. Knock-offs range from tobacco and air bags to baby formula and drugs.

The consumer often ends up with an inferior product or even worse, gets a serious illness. The owner of the intellectual property suffers financially from a weakened brand image.

What’s the solution to the counterfeiting problem? One line of defense against counterfeiting is consumer awareness.

There are many online initiatives aimed at educating the consumer about the prevalence of counterfeit goods, harmful effects of purchasing counterfeits and what they can do to safeguard against counterfeiting.

The Unreal Campaign

This campaign was launched by the International Trademark Association (INTA) last year with the aim of educating teenagers—the next generation of consumers—to “arm teens with as much information about the economic, social and health risks involved with counterfeiting as possible… it is our hope that this information will influence their decision the next time they are approached by a site or vendor selling counterfeit goods,” said Alan C. Drewsen, Executive Director of INTA.

The campaign utilizes a series of video blogs and other social media efforts, features an informative website, as well as games (such as Guess the Logo) and events to educate teenagers.

Fake Consumer Website

The International AntiCounterfeiting Coalition (IACC) has created a fake e-commerce website called DesignsFauxReal that, at first glance, appears to sell luxury items from brands such as Lucky and Tiffany & Co. The site has advertising that reads “Free identity theft with every purchase” and “Free credit card fraud with coupon code: FAK3S.”

The site even lets would be consumers of counterfeit goods checkout with their credit card information only to receive a message stating “Ooops. This isn’t a real checkout… just another fake out. We’re here to make sure you aren’t handing over your credit card info to hardened criminals. You’re welcome.”

News Stories and Other Media

USA Today recently wrote an article about how shopping for drugs online carries risks stating that “Most of the drugs are coming from Third World countries, are not regulated and you don’t know what you’re getting.”

The article offers a list of red flags to look for that indicate you might be dealing with a fake online pharmacy. For example, red flags include: the site allows you to purchase drugs without a prescription and offers drugs at prices too cheap to be true.

Esquire Magazine published a blog post called 5 Food Frauds You Might Have to Watch For stating: “today’s biggest scams are orchestrated by organized crime groups, and aided by black market chemists with deep knowledge of how to thwart food safety tests.” The article lists honey, vanilla, black pepper, olive oil and milk as consumer products to be aware of.

Yahoo! Finance equips readers with a nine-step guide on how to spot counterfeit bills to make sure a currency is genuine.

Consumer reports teaches consumers how to inspect designer goods to spot counterfeits. The site advises consumers to contact the Better Business Bureau to check out the merchant and be aware when products are sold for extremely low prices.

In addition to consumer awareness, brands are wise to hire a private investigator to conduct market research and make buys. When hiring a private investigator, make sure they are experienced and are able to conduct covert surveillance.

Photo Source: Flickr

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