Black Friday Scams – Eight ways to avoid being conned by dodgy online retailers into buying fake and dangerous goods

Excitable Black Friday bargain hunters could be exposed to online scams in their quest to grab a deal warns Feel Good Contacts and the Anti-Counterfeiting Group (ACG).

Operating behind sophisticated looking sites, and social media, criminals use fake trademarks, brands, emblems, and bogus certification labels to entice customers into thinking they are buying genuine, safe products at prices that are too good to be true. These products often turn out to be nothing more than shoddy and dangerous tat.

Spotting counterfeit products online is more difficult than at a shop or market stall, but it can be done. Here are eight tips on how to avoid buying fake goods:

Trust your instincts, if it sounds too good to be true then the chances are that the item is fake. It’s cheap as it hasn’t been tested and certified. Ray-Bans are one of the most popular sunglasses brands in the world for imitations. But there are ways to spot a fake pair of Ray-Bans. In addition, counterfeit Oakley sunglasses are also being touted but there are ways to spot a fake pair of Oakley sunglasses.
Be suspicious of deeply discounted prices. Stick to reputable and trusted traders as well as websites offering legitimate deals. For example, if it’s a beauty deal and the sale is not happening in store then it’s unlikely to be an authorised seller.
To create an authentic looking site, an online fraudster will replicate the look and feel of a brand’s official website. Consumers need to be vigilant. It’s worth checking the spelling and grammar on websites and the URL because people behind these sites don’t always pay attention to the detail. Fraudsters will try and deceive shoppers by slightly changing the spelling of a well-known brand or shop in the website address. The result could be the arrival of dangerous or trashy goods and the theft of your personal and financial details.
Just because a site ends with does not mean that the seller is based in the UK. If there is no address supplied or if there is just a PO Box or email, consumers should be wary. Copy and paste the web address onto this website to check where the lender is really located. If their address has been left out or withheld then this should be a cause for suspicion. Many websites selling fake items have their domains registered in China.
If you have not bought from the seller before then do your research and check online for reviews. Also look out for fake reviews. If there have been a lot of positive reviews within a few days, then this can indicate that the fraudsters are pushing for reviews to happen on a certain timeline. Look out for poor spelling, grammar, similarly staged user photos and similar wording for warning signs. People will often turn to forums and blogs to warn of fake sites so it’s worth reading these.
Ensure the website address begins ‘https’ at the payment stage – this indicates a secure payment. Also look for a highlighted lock symbol in your web browser.
Be extremely wary if asked to send any payment abroad by any money transfer system such as Ukash, Western Union or any other.
Look out for details of a returns policy, rogue traders don’t offer customer service. Look at the “contact us” section, if there’s no physical address or working phone number, beware.

According to Customs authorities across Europe, over 37% of fakes picked up at our borders are dangerous to consumers. Other reports reveal that over 90% of fake goods now present a real danger[1], including counterfeit electrical items such as hair straighteners which can cause electric shocks and even house fires, fake perfume (often stabilised by urine) and bootleg alcohol can result in poisoning and chemical burns. Makeup has been found to contain cyanide, mercury and even faeces.

Nimesh Shah, Marketing Director at Feel Good Contacts commented; “Whilst fake sunglasses pose a very immediate danger. Quality, branded sunglasses meet strict safety standards, but fakes don’t and fail to block UV light from reaching our eyes. In fact, they can actually allow more UV light into the back of the eyes and as a result, fake sunglasses can cause more damage to the eyes than not wearing sunglasses at all.”

Phil Lewis, Director General at the Anti-Counterfeiting Group commented: “Criminals will stop at nothing to sell their products and in some cases endanger our families. At this time of year, ACG witnesses a surge in counterfeit products being touted.”

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