WASHINGTON – Officials from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) are advising shoppers this holiday season to be aware of online scams that would have consumers purchase counterfeit goods instead of genuine products.
Counterfeit electronics that overheat due to improper manufacture, fake bicycle helmets that break upon impact and phony cosmetics that lead to skin ailments are just a few examples of knock-off items sold online that present a serious health and safety risk. Seasonal items like holiday lights can also be counterfeit, poorly wired and ignite fires.
“Tablets, sporting goods and beauty products are popular holiday gift items, but they’re also commonly counterfeited and sold to unsuspecting consumers,” said National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR Center) Director Bruce Foucart. “It’s important that the American public is aware of these online schemes so they can shop smartly, protect their finances and stay safe.”
Shoppers can protect themselves year-round by knowing how to identify copyright infringing websites, by exercising due diligence when purchasing items from independent sellers on e-commerce sites and by using caution when buying merchandise through social media platforms. Consumers should also avoid clicking on suspicious advertisements either emailed directly or found while searching the Internet. Key signs that a website may be peddling counterfeit goods include:
- All the products listed are on sale or offered at extremely low prices.
- The website does not have proper contact information.
- The product is not shipping from within the United States.
- The buyer is redirected to an external online payment system during checkout.
"CBP is working diligently to stop the flow of counterfeit and pirated goods,” said Michael Walsh, the Director of Customs and Border Protection's IPR Policy and Programs Division. “We ask that shoppers be wary and do their homework. Counterfeit and pirated goods are poor quality, harm legitimate businesses, and can pose health and safety risks to U.S. consumers."
The IPR Center is one of the U.S. government's key weapons in the fight against criminal counterfeiting and piracy. Working in close coordination with the Department of Justice Task Force on Intellectual Property, the IPR Center uses the expertise of its 23 member agencies to share information, develop initiatives, coordinate enforcement actions and conduct investigations related to intellectual property theft. Through this strategic interagency partnership, the IPR Center protects the public's health and safety and the U.S. economy.
Editor's note: We can't have a great America if we don't protect the businesses which have been the cornerstone to our way of life. Everyone likes a great deal, but someone always comes out on the short end when things are fake. In fact, if the deal is too good to be true, it is probably not such a great deal at all!
At Un Dia Sin Fronteras, we work hard to advocate for fair treatment of all people. That shoe has to fit on both feet. We ask for fair treatment of immigrants, for example. But we also advocate that the treatment is fair in both directions.
We wish each of you a safe and happy holiday!