The dangers of buying fake products pose risks to both your health and the economy. Learn more about how to spot fake products and how to avoid and report them.
Walking along a seedy market street and buying straight from the vendor that claims he is selling authentic products – the buyer is usually accepting of the fact that what he or she is buying might not probably be the “real” thing. Most people opt to buy the imitation product to own a cheaper version of a designer brand. Some people don’t know the difference.
But is it the same if you buy from a seemingly reputable website a product that you thought was an original but getting a cheap knock off instead? Paying the same as you would for an original but receiving a fake product?
Depending on the product that you bought, this could be either laughable or very, very dangerous. If it were electronics, medicine, or children’s toys, they could lead to serious health hazards if they contain less than safe ingredients.
The Global Problem of Counterfeit Goods
The problem of counterfeiting has been going on for a very long time. The difference nowadays is that unauthorized retailers have an almost infinite reach when it comes to selling their fake goods – The Internet.
Although products and even currency have been imitated and faked throughout history, it has never been at this grand a scale.
In 2018 global counterfeiting operations caused 323 billion US dollars in loss and damages; it is especially alarming with some cases that lead to affecting the consumer’s health at times leads to death.
There are knockoffs and pirated versions; the difference between the two are:
- Pirated products are reproductions without any permission from the original owner, and usually with the use of substandard, uncertified, in most cases, very unsafe materials.
- Knockoffs are cheap imitations of known brands; they are the “almost” the same looking, branded the same, packaged similarly, and, of course, made with quite possibly hazardous materials.
Counterfeiting is a violation of international law and perpetrated by criminal organizations. The people that are most at risk with counterfeit products are the consumers.
Not only are they at risk of buying imitation goods, but they might also, in fact, be risking their lives when purchasing products of questionable origins.
It is easy to get victimized, primarily through websites that, at face value, look legitimate or trustworthy. The risks not only stop or start when the product gets handed over to the customer. From the very start that you gave these people your credit information, especially if you purchased online, is one way for them to exploit you differently altogether.
The same people who traffic drugs, people, and what have you in terms of illegal activities, are the same people involved in distributing these products. They do not care about your person or your safety; they only care about one thing, getting your money through fraudulent means.
Familiar horror stories involve fake phone chargers that explode. Harmful pills, vitamins, or supplements – these counterfeit medicines incur severe adverse reactions, make-up or perfume with questionable ingredients, and most vile of all, children’s toys that have lead in them.
Be alert and always purchase from trustworthy sites, and do not just give out your credit card information. Be sure to look at the website’s trust rating and look at reviews from other people. Double and triple check the site, the product, and most especially the retailer or brand/manufacturer.
Adverse Effects on the Economy
Manufacturers of cheap knockoffs or pirated products often sell their products at a lower price. More and more vendors sell these products because they are easier to sell at a lower price compared to the original goods, which directly impact the unique brand that they copied.
To combat counterfeit products, legitimate brands usually put countermeasures directly on their products. However, these tactics typically drive the prices of the products even higher. The manufacturer has no choice but to differentiate themselves farther and farther apart from the knockoffs. Still, at the same time, illegal manufacturers are getting better and better at copying their products. The consumer pays the most out of all of this, whether through actual money or their health and safety.
Is There an End In Sight?
Ultimately all the power lies in the hands of the consumers. As long as no one is buying these counterfeit products, no one or fewer people will manufacture them. The demand should be dealt with first to put an end to the underground counterfeit market.
In an ever-increasingly global market that we live in today, it is more imperative that we, as consumers, remain as alert and well-informed as we can be to avoid being duped into buying fake products.
Chime in, let us know your thoughts on how we as consumers can deal with this global problem in the comments below. Learn more about the dangers of counterfeit products and how you as a consumer, wholesaler, or direct retailer can help fight back.