Counterfeits are everywhere. Look at counterfeit unboxing and comparison videos online and you’ll see very convincing products often sold by reputable retailers at a tenth the cost of the real deal. So what’s the problem with counterfeiting? Unfortunately, those real-looking products can malfunction and cause electrical shocks or fires. Counterfeit medications can also cause serious injuries or even death. Counterfeits cost the global economy $323 billion in 2018, and an astounding two in five name brand products sold online are counterfeits. How can both consumers and businesses protect themselves from counterfeits?
Counterfeits Often Lead To Other Crimes
Oftentimes counterfeiting is only a small part of a larger criminal syndicate. Counterfeiting can be associated with drug trafficking, human trafficking, child labor, sweatshops, identity theft, and more. Software piracy sites can offer downloads containing malware, and sites selling counterfeit merchandise can gether credit card numbers and personal information from buyers. Counterfeit medications and medical equipment — which may account for as much as 10% of the market in developing countries — can cause serious injury or death, and often people don’t know they’ve purchased a counterfeit until they have a bad reaction. By then it’s too late.
Counterfeits Are Prevalent
An astounding amount of cosmetics, personal care products, medications, and supplements sold online are counterfeits. Still more products such as phone chargers, replacement batteries, and even cryptocurrency cold wallets are counterfeits. Almost all counterfeit iPhone chargers that were tested failed critical safety tests. And fake cryptocurrency wallets are so convincing you may not know they aren’t real until you realize you’ve been cleaned out. More than a quarter of consumers reported unknowingly purchasing counterfeit merchandise online, and those are just the ones who realized they had a fake once it was in their hands.
Counterfeits Cost Your Brand Its Reputation
For all the consumers who realized they had purchased a counterfeit product, there are still more who may not realize they have a fake and blame any malfunctions on the brand that got ripped off. When Tylenol was filled with poison by a murderer in the 1980s and put back on shelves to cover the murderer’s tracks, Tylenol’s reputation was severely damaged. Brands can sustain this type of damage from defective but convincing counterfeits consumers buy unknowingly.
Consumers Can Fight Back
Consumers should always be wary of prices that are too good to be true. If there are doubts about a product’s authenticity, there are clues to look for including misspellings on the listing or a dodgy seller. Read reviews and make sure you always purchase from a reputable seller.
Brands Can Fight Back, Too
Brands can fight counterfeits better than anyone. Doing business with reputable manufacturers, selling only via verified listings, and keeping an eye out for counterfeits can save not only your brand’s reputation but also its bottom line. Be vigilant about sending takedown notices, scan marketplaces frequently, and pursue legal action whenever necessary.
Learn more about the prevalence of counterfeits and how to fight back from the infographic below.
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