23 November 2018

US customs warns shoppers over Black Friday counterfeits

The US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has warned consumers that some deals online may be too good to be true as shoppers search for bargains on Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

In a statement released on Wednesday, November 21, the CBP said that the number of unscrupulous manufacturers and sellers peddling fraudulent products has increased over the past decade as the volume of online shopping has risen.

According to Statista, online sales revenue on Black Friday has risen from $534 million in 2008 to $2.36 billion in 2017. Last year’s figure represented a 19.7% increase from that of 2016.

Black Friday, which is today, November 23, is the day after Thanksgiving in the US, with Cyber Monday coming the following week.

Highlighting that pushing fake products online is big business, the CBP said that recently it seized 4,820 counterfeit iPhone parts at the Port of San Diego which would have been worth $222,113 had they been genuine.

The CBP went on to discuss some of the problems with fake products, such as electronics that can overheat due to improper manufacturing processes, bicycle helmets that can break upon impact, and cosmetics that can lead to skin reactions.

“There are steps e-commerce shoppers can take to protect themselves, not just this holiday season, but all year round, such as exercising caution when buying merchandise through social media platforms and not clicking on suspicious advertisements in their inbox or internet browsers,” the CBP added.

It said that key signs that a website may be peddling counterfeit goods include all the products listed are on sale or offered at extremely low prices; the website does not have proper contact information; the product is not shipped from within the US; and the buyer is redirected to an external online payment system during checkout.

The CBP’s warning follows a report from brand protection company Red Points that said young consumers who are prone to ‘impulse’ buying are at risk of falling for fakes on Black Friday.

As reported by TBO, Red Points surveyed more than 1,000 millennials in the US for its “Black Friday are your consumers safe?” report, noting that, last year, millennials unknowingly spent $482 million on counterfeits on Black Friday, while one in four is likely to fall for fakes this year due to their inability to spot them online.

This story was first published on TBO.

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