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DON'T LET THEM TAKE WITH INTERNET FAKES; TRICIA PHILLIPS tells you the best ways to not fall victim to counterfeiters online.

Byline: TRICIA PHILLIPS

ONE in three of us have ended up with fake goods when shopping online. Counterfeiters and fraudsters are cashing in on the huge growth in online sales and tricking people into buying duff products.

As well as being left out of pocket, dodgy goods can pose health and safety risks, especially with electronics and medical products.

A report from MarkMonitor, a cybersecurity and anti-counterfeit specialist, shows the counterfeit electronics market alone is valued at PS1.3bn a year. One in four people believe they spent as much as PS250 on fake products last year. But even electrical goods were beaten into second place by counterfeit clothing brands.

Vice-president of marketing at MarkMonitor, Chrissie Jamieson, says: "Shoppers are getting smarter about their online behaviour, but that's still not enough. They are falling victim to counterfeiters and being duped into buying fake goods. They look to brands for guidance and protection, and it's vital these brands ensure they're doing all they can to keep their customers safe."

But, how can you stay safe and avoid falling victim to counterfeit goods? There are five key things to consider when buying online: 1PRICE COUNTERFEITERS are wising up and realising that sometimes it can be more convincing if an item is only reduced a little. Search around for the recommended retail price (RRP) and even if the item only has a small discount, such as 20%, it is worth checking other elements of the website you are buying from to see if it all stacks up.

2THE SITE ITSELF ALTHOUGH some websites look professional at first glance, counterfeiters aren't always so careful about the "About us" or "FAQ" page. Check these sections and make sure you look at the delivery details and note where the company is based. Does this match up with the company's official details? Also, look at the delivery options. Less reputable sites won't bother with this.

3 RETURN AND PRIVACY POLICIES THESE should be clear if it's a reputable site. A bona fide seller should provide an option to cancel orders, and say where to return goods. Counterfeiters won't usually invest the time to craft a clear, strong privacy policy, so, if there isn't one on the website, be warned.

4 CHECK THE WEB ADDRESS IMPERSONATION of a brand's website and what is referred to as "cybersquatting" are on the rise.

When doing an initial search for the brand name, check the link and look out for spelling mistakes on both the website and the URL address. If the address begins with https://, the "s" tells you it's a secure site.

Some of the bigger brands have dedicated pages on their websites so you can check whether a seller is authorised.

5 ONLINE MARKETPLACES EVEN if the marketplace itself is a brand you know, check reviews on individual sellers or try and find any forum chats, and speak to other retailers before placing that order.

Counterfeit sellers won't usually invest the time to craft a clear privacy policy, so see if there is one on their site.

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Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Feb 18, 2019
Words:509
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