As this year’s holiday shopping season is well underway, the experts at OpSec Security pulled together the top holiday shopping tips and statistics to keep in mind for consumers and brands to protect themselves against fakes, counterfeits, and scams.
We’ll post one tip per day on our social channels, and wrap them up here on our blog on a weekly basis. Be sure to follow us on LinkedIn and Facebook to see each day’s tip in your feed.
We at OpSec wish you and your family a safe, protected, and authentic holiday season.
From high fashion handbags to automotive car parts, those fakes are out there, and some of them are good enough to fool even a savvy consumer. Find out what else consumers had to say in our 2021 Consumer Confidence Barometer report.
Seems obvious, but taking the time to do some investigating is a good preventative step. Be wary of reviews that don’t feel or look quite right – they may be falsified.
Retailers, take note, and consider partnering with OpSec for solutions like a complete Online Brand Protection strategy. (Source: OpSec Security’s 2021 Consumer Confidence Barometer)
60% of consumers expect brands to lead the way in identifying and taking down counterfeiters. Secure brand authentication features ensure that consumers have confidence that what they purchase is legitimate – protecting brand loyalty and revenues in the process. Finding and removing fake products in the marketplace not only to prevent damage to brand image and company revenues, but also to ensure customers’ safety and well being.
If the deal is too good to be true, it probably is. OpSec’s Online Pricing Radar tool monitors and detects thousands of questionable online listings based on price.
Of those surveyed for our Consumer Barometer report who had received a fake item, over a quarter of them were from online marketplaces. OpSec has cutting edge tools that take down global networks of counterfeiters in one fell swoop – read about our Network Intelligence solution!
From unfair labor practices to environmentally damaging manufacturing processes, duping honest consumers isn’t the only negative impact caused by fakes, and OpSec is proud of the work we do to counteract that.
Take out your phone and scan those QR codes – it just might help you determine if the product you’re looking at is real, where or when it was manufactured, or even more helpful product information.
Counterfeiters are more sophisticated now than ever, operating with broad networks and access to tools and technology – and the knock-offs are becoming harder and harder to spot. The recent troubled supply chain allows merchandising gaps for counterfeiters to capitalize on – and consumers are more suspicious now than ever before.
With most luxury brands having committed to sustainability and carbon neutral initiatives, the counterfeit goods trade therefore undermines their efforts. Consequently, there is even more onus on brands to put an end to the production and sale of fake goods.
Be sure to review the terms of service, refund policy, and other typical content-heavy information you see on credible e-commerce sites. Often, sketchy sites use nonsensical placeholder text in these areas to create the appearance of credibility – a keen eye can spot these red flags and avoid phishing and counterfeit schemes. Hot tip – check for a working phone number and address that can be used to contact the seller.
Brands often extend the quality of their goods to the quality of their packaging. If your merchandise looks re-packaged, chances are, something is off. Peeling labels, low-quality ink or printing errors on the packaging are also signs that products may not be legitimate.
Brands partner with authentication providers like OpSec to design custom on-product and packaging identifiers that can contain three levels of features. Overt features are easy to spot with the naked eye – think a really beautiful high-quality hologram that is prohibitive to the counterfeiters to recreate. Covert features require the use of a tool like a magnifying glass, UV lamp, or smartphone app for officials to authenticate. Forensic features are top-secret, hidden, and unexpected features that sometimes only OpSec is privy to! We can then help to prove or disprove in legal disputes if a product is authentic, or indeed a fake.
Counterfeits aren’t just limited to handbags and jewelry. Would you want to drive a car with fake or questionable brakes? Removal of counterfeit automotive parts from online marketplaces has increased by an estimated three times since the start of the pandemic. And how could you forget this counterfeit MAC lipstick laced with lead?
Increasingly problematic in online brand imitation is the use of typo-squatting homoglyphs. Threat actors commonly use characters that look visually the same but are from a different writing system to make the malicious domain appear the same as the targeted. One of our clients faced this threat until OpSec stepped in!
Think counterfeiters care about exploitation or working conditions? Think again – the creation of counterfeits involves forced labor, human trafficking, and often supports other criminal enterprises.
Those shiny holograms aren’t just for looks – they’re engineered with obvious and not-so-obvious technical features that can indicate to both consumers and officials that a product is what it appears to be. We should know – OpSec has provided brand authentication identifiers across many industries for decades.
Keep in mind this holiday season – if extensive searches on the official manufacturer’s website or catalog do not bring any results for a specific product model, be wary of the authenticity of similar items found on online marketplaces. When possible, purchase items directly from the manufacturer’s website or an authorized reseller.
Hot tip for brands who seek to build their eco-friendly image – upholding sustainable and environmentally ethical practices goes a long way in earning consumer trust in a brand’s name.
Wondering whether or not you should buy that certain product that keeps showing up in your social feed? As a consumer, it never hurts to confirm the affiliation between an influencer and the brands they claim to represent.
If the return policy on a website is unclear or nonexistent, you are much more likely to encounter faulty goods, lengthy or fictitious shipments, and compromised information.
Who doesn’t love shopping at those bargain retail outlets? If you’re wrapping up the last minute-shopping in-person, make sure all the expected contents are in the packaging of those electronics items.
In a December release, US Customs and Border Protection said that its personnel seized 26,503 shipments containing counterfeit goods worth an estimated $1.3 billion – had they been genuine products – in the 2020 financial year. These items are typically destroyed, causing a massive impact on the environment.
This one says it all. You can’t put a price on your own health and safety. But don’t forget, unbelievably low prices aren’t the only dead giveaway to avoiding counterfeits and fakes! Keep all these tips in mind when discerning between a real and a fake, a scam and a trustworthy source, and help to ensure a safe, happy holiday season for yourself and your loved ones.