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US officials have warned shoppers to remain vigilant in the holiday season and be aware of online scams that may lead to them purchasing counterfeits.
Officials from US Immigration and Customs Enforcement and US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) warned that counterfeits, particularly those bought on e-commerce sites, may pose health and safety risks.
Bruce Foucart, director of the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center, said: “It’s important that the American public is aware of these online schemes so they can shop smartly, protect their finances and stay safe.”
Counterfeit electronics that overheat due to improper manufacture and phoney cosmetics that lead to skin ailments are just a few examples of fakes sold online at this time of year that present a “serious health and safety risk”, the agencies said.
Seasonal items such as holiday lights can also be counterfeit, poorly wired and ignite fires, they added.
To help warn shoppers, officials said consumers should avoid clicking on suspicious adverts, either emailed directly or found while searching the internet.
Key signs that a website may be selling counterfeit goods include products being offered at extremely low prices, lack of proper contact information being given, products not being shipped from within the US, and buyers being redirected to an external online payment system during checkout.
Michael Walsh, the director of CBP’s IPR Policy and Programs Division, added: “We ask that shoppers be wary and do their homework. Counterfeit and pirated goods are poor quality, harm legitimate businesses, and can pose health and safety risks to US consumers.”
US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, US Customs and Border Protection, counterfeits, e-commerce, trademark