10 tips on how you can avoid buying fake products online

3/15/2017

You want to be sure you aren’t buying fake products? Check out the 10 ECC-Net tips on how you can avoid buying fake products online.

Buying counterfeit goods is risky for your security, your health and your wallet. So don't do it!

You're not sure? Ask yourself these questions:

  • Are your fake sunglasses really protecting your eyes?
  • Is the fake toy for your baby girl free of toxic substances?
  • What might be in your fake perfume?
  • Are you sure your fake battery won't explode when you're using it?
  • And what if your fake product is defective? Do you have a guarantee right?
  • Or what if you receive a letter from the right holder saying that you will have to pay the destruction costs for the fake mobile you just bought in Asia?

You want to be sure you aren't buying fake products? Check out the 10 ECC-Net tips on how you can avoid buying fake products on the Internet.

1. Check the identity of the seller

Always check the contact details of the webshop to verify if it really exists, and where and how to complain in case of a problem.

Here are the details to verify:

  • the name of the company,
  • the geographical address,
  • the e-mail address or a genuine contact form
  • the phone and fax number, if available.

Do not trust the URL address. Just because an address ends with ".be", ".fr", "nl" or any other European extension does not necessarily mean that the company is actually located within the EU.

2. Search other consumers' reviews

Use Internet search tools to check whether other consumers have left any good or bad comments about the trader. Read these comments carefully, and keep a critical eye.

Excessively positive review? The same person reviewing the same product on several websites? Review too vague? Be careful! It could be a review left by the webshop itself, which is, of course, illegal.

3. Check whether the website benefits from a trust mark

A trust mark is a stamp that an objective third party awards to a webshop that meets the trust mark quality requirements and that guarantees a safe online purchase.

Does the trader's website mention a trust mark? To be sure the trustmark is justified and trustworthy, go to the trust mark's website to check whether the webshop was actually awarded this quality label.

4. Assess the general layout of the website

Most of the websites selling counterfeit products do not look very professional: they often have spelling mistakes and grammatical errors, poor quality pictures of the products being sold or of the logos for the means of payment, etc.

The fact that the website is in your language doesn't mean that it's actually based in your country. Do not trust websites whose URL links the name of a brand with terms such as "cheap", "outlet" or other expressions suggesting low prices.

5. Check your consumer rights on the trader's website

Online traders are obliged to provide you with clear and correct information about your consumer rights, such as the 14-day withdrawal right or the legal warranty of at least 2 years.

No information on your EU consumer law? No indication of the ODR platform for redress? Look somewhere else!

6. Check the picture of the product

Do the pictures shown on the webshop look unprofessional? Is there something wrong with the logo or does the background look strange? Are the photos of low-quality? Is it impossible to zoom in? Is only part of the item displayed? These may be indicators of a website that is selling fake products.

7. Watch the price of the good

Counterfeit products are often sold at a price considerably lower than the price quoted on official retailer webshops. "If the price is too good to be true, it usually is" is a principle that you should bear in mind when buying on the Internet.

Do not hesitate to compare prices on several websites, and always take the total price into account (are VAT, delivery cost, banking fees, custom duties, etc. included?).

8. Check the official website of the brand for authorized and black-listed sellers

Most of the major brands only give specific retailers their authorization to sell their products. Ordering products from those retailers guarantees that you are buying original products.

Go to the official website of the brand to check whether the webshop you are visiting is recognized as an authorized retailer, and is not black-listed.

9. Pay with a secured means of payment

When you pay for a purchase on the Internet, you need to follow 3 golden principles:

  1. always pay on a secured payment page (displaying a padlock or key logo, and whose URL address begins with "https"),
  2. pay by credit card by preference, as you may be able to recover your money from the credit card issuer in case of fraud,
  3. avoid direct money transfers (such as Western Union, Worldremit, Worldplay, Moneycorp, ...).

10. Pay attention to refurbished products

There is no clear definition of refurbished products. Is it considered as new or not? This makes a difference to your guarantee, and to what you can except from such a product.

Consider the price you pay. Compare it with other original products.

Download our 10 tips

Like our tips? You can download them. The tips are available as a brochure and a shorter poster version.

Brochure: Is it safe to buy counterfeit goods? (PDF)

Poster: 10 Tips: How to avoid buying fake products online (PDF)

More information

The tips are a compilation of ECC Sweden and the ECC network's report The impact of counterfeiting on online consumer rights in Europe, which was launched on 15 March 2017.

The report emphasis the risks of piracy, the consequences it entails and includes tips on how to recognize counterfeit products online.

Read the press release "Beware of counterfeits online"