Staffordshire County Council Trading Standards team is urging shoppers to be aware of counterfeit goods in the run-up to Christmas.
Counterfeit goods are often poor-quality imitations that can be dangerous to health. They also cause harm to the local economy and fund organised criminal gangs.
Over the past few years Staffordshire’s trading standards officers have seized millions of pounds of fake goods. Popular fakes include clothing, sportswear, headphones, toiletries, cosmetics, children’s toys, alcohol and tobacco.
Tony Shore, Trading Standards Manager at Staffordshire County Council said: “The run-up to Christmas is always a busy time for shoppers and a popular time for market events and online sales events like Black Friday and Cyber Monday. But it’s also a busy time for counterfeiters.
“We’re now reminding people to be on their guard for counterfeit items. Fakes are increasingly hard to detect just to look at, so when something is being sold at a knock-down price, people should be extremely wary. We always say that if something is too good to be true, it usually is.
“Anyone who buys counterfeit goods will land themselves with poor-quality and possibly dangerous goods while helping line criminals’ pockets. We want to protect the public and legitimate business and we will continue our fight against counterfeiters.”
Through the proceeds of crime law, Trading Standards teams have also managed to seize assets and money from those successfully prosecuted. The money is then used to fund local crime fighting operations and to seize more illegal goods.
The three Ps
To avoid counterfeit goods, consumers should also look out for the ‘Three Ps’:
- PRICE: If the price looks too good to be true, it probably is.
- PACKAGING: If the product is being sold without its packaging, or the packaging appears to be of low quality, or includes printing errors (for example, blurry pictures, typos, spelling or grammatical errors) it is probably counterfeit.
- PLACE: Consider where the product is being sold. If it’s in-store, ask yourself if you would normally expect to find the product sold in this type of environment. Deal only with legitimate, established retailers.
If buying online, counterfeiters often steal pictures and formatting from the real websites to make their websites look legitimate, so don’t be fooled by a professional-looking website. If you find typos, grammatical and spelling errors, or incomplete information, then the site is probably fake.
Staffordshire Trading Standards is urging residents of the county to report counterfeit goods sales via the anonymous Staffordshire Fight the Fakes line on 01785 330356.