Trading Standards officers at North East Lincolnshire Council are warning people not to buy counterfeit goods as we approach World Anti-Counterfeiting Day on 8 June.
Many people like to shop around for the best bargains – but remember, if it looks too good to be true, it probably is. That’s why Trading Standards are asking people to not get caught out by cheap, fake goods. No one wants a poor quality and often dangerous and unsafe product.
Locally, the main platform for fake goods (excluding counterfeit cigarettes) is on social media with “designer goods and make-up” being offered at very low prices. Trading Standards officers have taken down a number of social media pages once it has been established that the products are fake.
Social media purchases do not carry the same protection and warranty as purchases from legitimate shops, and can be counterfeits. Entering into a contract with anyone on social media is not advisable due to the impermanent nature of it. Anyone who has access to a phone or laptop can set up a fake name and address. The advice on checking into companies, asking for examples of work still applies for social media.
In recent years, North East Lincolnshire Council has taken action on counterfeit tobacco, as well as clothing, make-up, toys and football memorabilia.
Nationally, criminals are increasingly turning their attention to even more deadly fakes and The Anti-Counterfeiting Group is witnessing a growing number of products which endanger consumers. These include medicines, medical equipment, car parts, toys, food, cosmetics and household electrical goods.
To find out more about the dangers of fakes, visit www.a-cg.org/useful_info/the-dangers-of-fakes
How can I reduce the risk of buying a fake product?
To remove the risk, there’s a number of precautions you can take such as:
- Buying from a reputable supplier
- The Brand-I website can help brand-i.org as it allows you to search for legitimate sellers of branded items so shoppers can be sure they’re buying a genuine item rather than a cheaply-made replica
- To check if an item is genuine, you can look at the packaging. Legitimate goods will usually be protectively marked and feature the safety mark
- Always ask for a receipt, and check that the seller accepts returns within a certain timeframe
How do Trading Standards suspect when someone is selling counterfeit goods? What is the process?
Goods are usually seized on an intelligence-led basis, either from someone making a complaint about something they have seen on social media or from brand protection themselves.
The process of seizing is an in-depth process which requires photographic evidence and a written record of everything found.
Items are seized and taken away with Trading Standards officers to be used in evidence.
Several lines of action can be taken once a prosecution file is complete, including ‘no further action’ or a ‘formal caution’, right through to a full prosecution in court.
Councillor Ron Shepherd, portfolio holder for safer and stronger communities, said: “When you buy fake goods, you’re ultimately handing money to criminals, stealing from the original rights holders, and potentially funding other illegal activities.
“While cheap clothes, make-up, and toys might seem harmless and look good, they are likely to be made from unsafe materials which may break apart easily, pose choking hazards for small children or cause skin irritation.
“Cheap electrical devices can also pose a serious threat. An extra few quid is a small price to pay to avoid the risk of a house fire.
“Anyone who has information on the sale and distribution of counterfeit goods should report it to Trading Standards.”
If you suspect the authenticity of branded items being sold, you can report it to Trading Standards through Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 0808 223 1133 or 0808 223 1133. Or visit www.brand-i.org to check the authenticity of the retailer and report unauthorised sellers.