Purchasing counterfeit goods can be a costly and dangerous mistake, but, unfortunately, one that is easily made. As counterfeiters are becoming ever-more sophisticated, it is often difficult to establish whether or not the product you are being offered is genuine. To help you avoid disappointment, and potential harm, we have compiled a list of factors to pay attention to when shopping online.

Woman shopping online

  1. Buy from official brand stores, or reputable retailers.

If you want to be certain that you are purchasing an authentic product, it is best to order from a brand’s official site. When a company doesn’t have an online store, it is worth looking at its selection of authorised retailers; shopping at one of these will guarantee that you purchase a genuine item (lists of legitimate stockists of major brands can be found at www.brand-i.org).

  1. Be realistic about the price.

Beware of the appeal of a bargain. Unless there is a valid explanation for a substantially discounted product (for example, used or damaged items), you should be wary of purchasing it. The general rule is – if a deal looks too good to be true, it most likely is.

  1. The devil is in the detail

Unusual packaging, poor stitching, crooked labels, misspelled, different or lack of logos and trademarks and blurry or low-quality photos are some of the major warning signs that you may have encountered a counterfeit. It is also worth comparing product photos with ones on the brand’s official website; if a product doesn’t look quite right, it probably isn’t.

  1. Avoid sites that overuse the words ‘genuine’, ‘authentic’ and ‘real’.

Retailers trying hard to convince their customers of their products’ authenticity should always be treated with suspicion; reputable stockists do not need to use such tactics to persuade buyers.

  1. Watch out for incorrect grammar and spelling.

Sites that sell counterfeits are often rife with spelling mistakes and typos, with entire sections, such as the terms and conditions and contact details pages, appearing to have been translated using machine translation tools.

  1. Check the credibility of the site.

When in doubt, there are online databases where you can check the credibility of a website. Via http://whois.domaintools.com , you can find the owner of the domain name of the site.  Sites such as Trustpilot and Scamadviser should be used to detect a website’s risk level.

If you have spotted a fraudulent site, you should report it to Action Fraud.