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5 top tips for last minute shoppers to stay safe online

Emma Lunn
Written By:
Emma Lunn

Shoppers seeking seasonal bargains on social media are being warned to beware of illicit counterfeit goods promoted and endorsed by social media influencers.

The Intellectual Property Office (IPO) found that ‘deviant’ social media influencers can exert significant influence over purchasing decisions, swaying 10% of those surveyed to purchase counterfeit goods across a wide range of products.

An IPO study shows that 17% of the participants were ‘knowing buyers’ of counterfeits. Of these, around 70% were aged 16 to 33, generating more than three quarters (77%) of demand for these illicit goods. More than half the demand (53%) was generated by ‘habitual buyers’.

The IPO said counterfeiters operating on social media often use well-known brand names to draw in consumers. As well as being illegal, the counterfeit goods are often dangerous. Intelligence also shows that the profits may be used to help fund serious and organised crime.

According to the study, the most popular illicit product categories were fashion, accessories, jewellery, and beauty products.

Operation MONTY, a collaborative enforcement campaign coordinated by the National Markets Group for IP Infringement, saw 450 Instagram Trader accounts – hosting more than 15,000 listings of infringing products – taken down in the space of two days in November.

These rogue vendors offered products including clothing, footwear, tobacco, electrical goods, bags, jewellery, cosmetics, perfumes, electrical goods, phone accessories and copyrighted photographs.

Tips to stay safe shopping online

  • The seller

Do they look official? Have you bought from this seller before, is the website or platform well known? Does the seller have a returns policy? If you are in doubt, look for a proper online review, not just recommendations from influencers to buy the item.

  • Making payments

Always beware of retailers asking for payment to be made via bank transfer. Well known credit card providers like Visa or Mastercard, and services like PayPal offer protection to buyers if the goods don’t arrive or are proven to be counterfeit.

  • Your instincts

Always trust your instincts. Does the item on offer look and feel like an authentic product? Sellers of counterfeits often make spelling mistakes in their descriptions and sometimes on the products themselves, which is an obvious warning sign. Spelling and grammar mistakes can indicate fakes. It’s best to purchase luxury clothes and accessories from trusted sites like https://csd.shop/designers/chanel/women/.

  • Safety markings

The safety standards of counterfeit items are poor and can be unsafe, especially when they are shipped from abroad. Do items – especially toys – have EU and UK safety markings? You should always check for the correct age restrictions and hazard warnings on the packaging.

  • The price

Whether buying online or in person, always think about the price. Scammers often sell counterfeit goods at discounted prices to make you drop your guard. If the item is significantly cheaper than you’d expect, that’s a good reason for alarm bells to ring. If the price looks too good to be true, it most probably is.

Tim Moss, IPO chief executive, said: “We want to help online shoppers feel safe, which is why we’ve put together some simple tips to know what to look out for and how to spot a fake. Criminal networks are targeting online platforms to deceive consumers into buying counterfeit goods. This undermines legitimate sellers and causes damage to individuals and communities.

“We are really pleased to have supported Operation Monty as we continue to work with our partner organisations to raise awareness of these issues issue and disrupt IP crime.”