Avoid being stung by fakes this Black Friday

Black Friday has become an unparalleled global phenomenon. Shoppers worldwide scour the world wide web in order to find the best deals on high-end products, bagging bargains that they’d be unable to obtain the other 11 months of the year.

It’s the run-up to Christmas – and in these curious times, as a pandemic ravages the globe, more shopping is being done online than ever before.

But the Anti-Counterfeiting Group (ACG), which represents the voice of business in shaping an effective deterrent to counterfeiting in the UK, and has done since 1980, is warning about the potential risks for shoppers looking at deals that may be too good to be true. They could well be just that – too good to be true.

One in five fashion posts on Instagram includes at least one fake item, according to analytics company Ghost Data, and the potential to buy a product from there or anywhere else that’s not kosher could be enormous. Indeed, there is prior precedent for potentially fake goods being bought on Black Friday. R

esearch has shown that 25% of people have bought a fake on Black Friday in 2019. “Price drops make it harder for people to spot a fake and with a large increase of online sales expected during this period due to shop closures the ACG are warning consumers to be extra careful,” say the ACG.

Illegal offers increase exponentially

Just as coronavirus numbers continue to increase exponentially, so do the fake goods being offered for reduced prices on odd online shops. The number of illegal offers has increased by a staggering 171% since 2016, according to research, and there are over 50,000 accounts either promoting or directly selling counterfeit goods on Instagram.

It’s not just on social media platforms that these things take place. Illicit goods often make their way onto websites alongside reputable ones, making it harder to differentiate the real thing from the fakes.

“Criminal fraudsters are acutely aware of the growing potential of selling counterfeits through a plethora of fake websites and online marketplaces, such as eBay, Amazon, Alibaba, AliExpress or Wish.”

Anti-Counterfeiting Group

“As we meet these Black Friday and Cyber Monday ‘deal days’ in the run-up to the festive season the scope of fakes will continue to grow and will include more and more unsafe products, including household appliances, toiletries, perfumes, hygiene and body care items,” says Phil Lewis, chief executive of the ACG. 37% of articles detained by European Union customs were potentially dangerous to the health and safety of consumers.

Think twice, buy once – or not at all

“We are warning all consumers to be vigilant and check what they are buying. If you are buying from a social media site make sure you check the product is being sold by a reputable source,” says Lewis.

Think about the price that’s being offered and if it’s too good to be true. Many retailers will track what their competitors are selling goods or products for and try and undercut them, but will often do so by small amounts.

If one retailer sticks out like a sore thumb with an inordinately cheap price, there is likely a reason why.

Make sure you also look at the website to see whether it’s a reputable one from which many people buy products – and even if it’s a recognisable name, check the provenance of the seller. Does the product have positive reviews, and more importantly, are they written in clear, plain English, or are they likely the work of a bot army? Does the retailer offer returns for goods and do customer service details exist?

If none of these are immediately yes, then do your research, and think twice before you decide to click buy – because you could end up with a fake item, or perhaps nothing at all.