Customs and Border Protection is warning Americans about the potential for counterfeit products to hit the shelves ahead of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, the two major shopping days before Christmas. According to Border Patrol, Americans need to pay particularly close attention when ordering online.
"Counterfeiters are focused on making a profit; they are not focused on consumer safety," William A. Ferrara, Executive Assistant Commissioner of the CBP Office of Field Operations, said in a statement. "Buying counterfeit goods can expose you and your family to health and safety risks while the proceeds support criminal enterprises."
According to the agency, consumers should pay particularly close attention to smartphones and their accessories, electronics, apparel, shoes, cosmetics, and other high-end luxury goods.
Consumers can protect themselves by:
- Purchasing goods only from reputable retailers.
- Be wary of third party vendors.
- Check seller reviews.
- Verify there is a working phone number and address for the seller, in case you have questions about the legitimacy of a product.
One way for consumers to know whether or not a product is legitimate: the price.
"If the price of the product seems too good to be true, it probably is – and that can cause real problems for you, your family, and legitimate businesses," Brenda Smith, Executive Assistant Commissioner of the CBP Office of Trade, explained.
Throughout fiscal year 2020 (so far), CBP has confiscated 26,503 shipments with fraudulent products, such as counterfeit watches, designer handbags and footwear, as well as fake cosmetics and pharmaceuticals. If the goods were legitimate they would have retailed for roughly 1.3 billion.