Ahead of Mother’s Day, U.S. Customs and Border Protection issued a cautionary press release yesterday urging people to ensure they are purchasing “the Real Thing” when considering buying goods from online marketplaces.
Illicit manufacturers continue to exploit the rapid growth of e-commerce to sell counterfeit goods to unsuspecting consumers in the United States, says CBP, as evidenced by the fact that in 2020 the agency seized more than 26,500 shipments containing counterfeit goods that would have been worth nearly $1.3 billion had they been genuine.
The seizure last week of two large shipments of fake merchandise from China that arrived by air cargo in Cincinnati—one consisting of 10,000 counterfeit Apple earbuds and another with nearly 1,400 items of fake Cartier and Hermes jewelry—that together were valued (had the goods been real) at almost $12 million is cited by CBP as the latest example of its ongoing efforts to enforce the rights of trademark holders.
CBP says its data indicates that handbags, wallets, wearing apparel, footwear, watches, jewelry, and consumer electronics are at higher risk of being counterfeited and notes that fake versions of such products bearing popular brand names are widely available in online marketplaces and flea markets.
Tips for Avoiding Counterfeits
To protect yourself from purchasing counterfeit merchandise, CBP recommends that consumers:
- Purchase goods directly from the trademark holder or from authorized retailers.
- When shopping online, read seller reviews and check for a working U.S. phone number and an address that can be used to contact the seller.
- Review CBP’s E-Commerce Counterfeit Awareness Guide.
Noting that counterfeit goods are often of inferior quality, if not potentially hazardous in the case of consumer electronics, CBP also reminds people to keep in mind when purchasing goods online that if the price of a product seems too good to be true, then it probably is.
Suspected counterfeit merchandise can be reported via CBP’s online e-Allegations portal or by calling 1-800-BE-ALERT.
Need More Information?
Additional information about counterfeit goods is available on CBP’s Fake Goods, Real Dangers website and the StopFakes.gov site, which goes into more detail about the steps you can take to avoid purchasing fake merchandise.