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BBB warns of Counterfeit Product Scams

Better Business Bureau - BBBNashville, TN – The Better Business Bureau (BBB) says it’s hard to resist a great bargain, especially on luxury goods and other high-priced items, but when it comes to counterfeit merchandise, consumers get scammed in a myriad of ways.

Counterfeit products are rarely of the same quality as the original.

They steal from designers and innovators who create original work, take business away from honest retailers, and reproduce tax revenue.

In some cases, counterfeit goods finance illegal activities and even exploit child labor.


How the Scam Works:

Counterfeit goods mimic original merchandise, right down to the trademarked logo, but are made with inferior products and workmanship. That can be an annoyance when a “designer” handbag falls apart after a few weeks, but it can be a life-threatening health or safety hazard when the counterfeit item is medicine or an auto part.
“Knock offs” or “copycat” products don’t pretend to be the real deal, but counterfeit items are made to fool you into thinking you are buying the original – often high-end – item. They are sold online, by street merchants, at flea markets, and sometimes in traditional retail stores.

Commonly counterfeited items include logo merchandise (team jerseys, designer leather goods), smart phones and other electronics, DVDs and CDs, watches, jewelry, sunglasses, auto parts, perfume, and blue jeans… but any item can be copied.

How to Spot This Scam:

  • The big red flag is an unreasonably low price. Consumers have become addicted to “low, low prices,” but it’s not possible to manufacturer high-end merchandise and sell it dirt cheap. It can be challenging for a buyer to detect counterfeit products but, in addition to price, some other warning signs are: shoddy workmanship, flimsy or nonexistent packaging, cash-only sales, and a vendor who does not collect sales tax. 
  • Avoid sketchy sellers. The best way to avoid purchasing counterfeit goods is to know the seller. Buy directly from the source (brand owner, manufacturer, team, etc.), through authorized resellers and dealers, or at reputable retailers. Check out businesses at bbb.org. Avoid clicking on phishing emails with too-good-to-be-true offers on “name brands” and “designer” goods. Use a credit card so you dispute the charges if there is a problem. 



To report a scam, go to BBB Scam Tracker.
For more holiday tips, check out BBB.org/holiday-tips, as well as information from BBB on how to shop safe this holiday season.

About BBB of Middle Tennessee and Southern Kentucky

For more than 100 years, Better Business Bureau has been helping people find businesses, brands and charities they can trust. BBB provides objective advice, BBB Business Profiles on more than 5.3 million companies, 11,000 charity reviewsdispute resolution servicesalerts and educational information on topics affecting marketplace trust. Visit bbb.org for more information.

There are local, independent BBBs across the United States, Canada and Mexico, including BBB Serving Middle TN and Southern KY, which was founded in 1961 and serves 45 counties in Middle TN and Southern KY.

Visit bbb.org for more information.


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