This Cyber Monday, be extra careful when buying online. Even the most savvy online shoppers are finding themselves stumbling onto websites selling counterfeit goods. A recent study conducted by Nielsen discovered one in five online bargain hunters browsed sites selling counterfeit products.
How the Scam Works:
Your holiday shopping list is long, but money is short. So instead of hitting the mall, you pull up Google. You type in terms like "cheap," "discount" and "outlet" followed by the name of a product. Hit the search button, and there's a one in five chance you'll end up at a website selling counterfeit goods. Make a purchase from such a site, and you end up with a fake rather than a great deal.
Many of these counterfeit sites are hard to distinguish from legitimate online retailers that sell overstocks and end-of-season clearance. Like those sites, the discount is usually 25 to 50 percent below regular price, and they use real photos of the items. Below are tips for spotting a fake... before you make a purchase.
I'm Not Sure This Website is Legit. What Should I Do?
- Look for the BBB seal on the website and check out the business' review on BBB.org.
- Make sure the site has a contact page with a physical address and phone number. You can also check whois.net to see who owns the website. Be very wary of web registrations that are private.
- To ensure your payment info is secure, look in the address box for the "s" in https:// and in the lower-right corner for the "lock" symbol.
- When shopping online, pay with a credit card. Under federal law, you can dispute the charges if you do not receive the item and contest unauthorized charges. Many card issuers have "zero liability" policies which will protect you if your credit card number is stolen.
For More Information
For the details, read Nielsen's blog post on the study or download a PDF of entire research paper.
To find out more about scams, check out the new BBB Scam Stopper.