Counterfeit Products — Deals or Dangerous Duds?

 

I was given a designer purse as a birthday gift and was so thrilled until one of my other friends pointed out that the nameplate should say “Prada” not “Proda.”  So my Prada was a Nada, which was embarrassing, but it wasn’t life threatening as other counterfeit products are. For example, the third most commonly copied product is drugs. The U. S. Customs department said that agents seized 24% more shipments of counterfeit goods last year (2011) than the previous year. In fact, fake purses didn’t even make the top ten list of these kinds of bogus products.

Top 10 Counterfeit Products

 

  1. Electronics
  2. Shoes
  3. Drugs
  4. CDs and DVDs
  5. Clothing
  6. Perfume
  7. Watches
  8. Cigarettes
  9. Computer Hardware
  10. Toys and Games

 

The Food and Drug Administration found fake versions of the cancer drug Avastin that made their way into doctors offices and in two cases, consumers received counterfeit versions of the attention deficit disorder drug Adderall. A mom noticed the misspelled label and alerted authorities. Way to go, mom, I guess a secondary clue was that junior was bouncing off the walls instead of calmly reading a book.

 

The Electrical Safety Foundation International says that there have been more than 1 million counterfeit electrical products recalled in recent years to include extension cords, batteries and power strips. These fake versions can cause fires and destroy devices.

 

The most popular knock off is electronics where the Gallup Consulting group found that 64% of counterfeit electrical products are purchased from legitimate shops and retailers! This includes iPhones, iPads and iPods. Phony apple stores abound in China and Hong Kong—the country that accounts for 80% of the value of counterfeit goods.  There was one industrious crook in America who set up a fake Apple storefront online and sold thousands of products before he was caught.

 

Don’t think that buying fake shampoo, toothpaste, or perfume constitutes getting a good deal either. These phony versions of branded personal care products can contact caustic chemicals that can harm the unsuspecting public.

 

Spotting the Deal that’s Really a Dud

 

There are ways to know whether you are getting the real deal or not.

  • Look for misspelled words and incorrect grammar on products, packaging and websites.  It might be a good idea to invite your 7th grade English teach to go shopping with you.
  • Beware of packaging, websites and products that don’t include company names, toll free numbers or other contact info. In fact, you can whip out your legitimate iPhone and call the toll free numbers on the product to see if they work or not.
  • If an item doesn’t come with a product manual that contains safety warnings and instructions for use and maintenance, then it’s probably a dud.
  • Don’t ever buy toys, anything electrical or items for children from flea markets or dollar stores that don’t allow returns.
  • Watch out for fake UL marks. The legitimate one includes “UL” in a circle, the word “LISTED” in all caps, the control or issue number and what the product is.

When in doubt, go to the Better Business Bureau www.bbb.org  or the Federal Trade Commission www.ftc.gov to see if there’s been an alert listed for the product you are purchasing

 

Ellie Kay

America’s Family Financial Expert (R)

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