As soon as Thanksgiving comes around, sales abound, and retailers are offering attractive discounts to encourage consumers to buy gifts for loved ones. Counterfeiters are also aware that this is the easiest time to sell counterfeit wares and scam consumers—even the most educated consumers are less suspicious of discounted prices at this time. Online shopping has increased, including a double digit sales growth from Cyber Monday sales this year as compared to last—and as we continue to shift towards virtual shopping, we will also begin to see more consumers exercising purchasing power through mobile devices--$2.4 billion in 2010, up from $1.2 billion in 2009. As more shoppers choose to take advantage of the deals available and the convenience of online shopping, more scams will take place.
On Cyber Monday, the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) obtained and executed seizure orders against 82 websites accused of distributing and selling both counterfeit products and copyrighted intellectual property. As a follow up to the ICE’s June seizure, Operation in Our Sites v2.0 was met with success and this surely marks a shift in attitude and policy towards online infringers. Also last month, were seized in Italy and local campaigns were launched in the UK, in an effort to raise awareness and protect consumers from purchasing counterfeit goods. Collaborative action on local and federal levels can lead to successful efforts to protect brands and consumers alike from counterfeit activity.
For consumers, here are four online shopping safety tips:
- Ensure unsolicited e-mail advertisements are genuine
- Buy from trusted, authorized sellers
- Be wary of fake gift cards and coupons, particularly circulated through in social media.
- For Internet transactions, never give out more information than is required for an online purchase
Our series on How to Spot a Fake outlines key guidelines to identify if the product you have purchased is, in fact, authentic. When in doubt, contact the brand or purchase directly from a trusted site or authorized seller.
For brands, especially those which are highly counterfeited, monitoring and enforcement are key. As part of a robust brand protection strategy, understanding the market dynamics and being cognizant of the increase in counterfeit goods and scams during the holiday season can help brands gear up for any increase in illicit behavior.
Learn more about OpSec's Online Brand Protection Solutions.