NASHVILLE, TN.- The business of selling counterfeit products has not slowed down during the pandemic as people depend on online shopping more than ever. US Customs and Border Protection wants to educate consumers that they should be aware of counterfeit goods and services.
“Just since the start of the pandemic. CBP has seized over 20 million counterfeit masks, ”said Brandon Lord, acting executive director of trade policy with US Customs and Border Protection.
Counterfeit pharmaceuticals are also a major concern for them.
“It is difficult for the American consumer to look at a pill or other pharmaceutical product and quickly identify that it is counterfeit,” Lord said.
From October 1, 2019 to September 30, 2020, the 5 main categories of goods seized by CBP according to the total number of shipments were:
1. Handbags and wallets (17% of total shipments seized)
2. Wear clothes and accessories (14%)
3. Shoes (13%)
4. Watches and jewelry (13%)
5. Consumer electronics (11%)
Counterfeit products not only harm legitimate businesses, but also pose serious threats to the health and safety of American consumers. Counterfeit N95s and fake versions of other face masks may not be effective in filtering out airborne particles or preventing liquid from contaminating the user’s face.
Data on seizures of counterfeit products for previous years are available at CBP.gov.
At the onset of the pandemic, U.S. Customs and Border Protection looked at existing trade data and supply networks and began looking for new importers, new import locations, and new manufactured products.
The ministry says it has worked closely with the Food and Drug Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and other government agencies to better understand the federal standards relating to products needed to respond to COVID-19.
CBP has also worked with pharmaceutical and PPE manufacturers to better understand their product standards. From the start of the COVID-19 pandemic to February 2021, CBP seized:
Officials say if you want to make sure you get the real deal, remember the three Ps:
Price: Prices that sound too good to be true are usually associated with counterfeit products. When shopping, check that the price and quality of the product is typical of genuine products. Note, however, that counterfeiters may drop the price slightly to appear legitimate.
Packaging: Check the certification marks and trademarks. Compare markings and packaging illustrations to known genuine products. Genuine packaging is generally of high quality and the products are well packaged. Look for labels that come off, poor quality ink or printing errors, and loose products
inside the box.
In law: When shopping in a store or online, buy directly from brand owners or authorized resellers. Unknown third-party sellers may be counterfeiters. A 2018 report from the US Government Accountability Office found that almost half of products purchased online from third-party sellers on popular websites were fake.
The biggest clue of counterfeit products is almost always the artificially low price of the item. Buying the item directly from the legitimate trademark holder is the best way to ensure that you are not purchasing a counterfeit product. In addition to poor quality packaging, handbag / clothing consumers should be on the lookout for things such as poor or uneven stitching, incorrectly sized or discolored logos, and the use of synthetic materials in place of natural materials.
For consumer electronics, the telltale signs are things like poor battery life, regular overheating, and poor performance.
If you think it’s okay to buy a fake handbag, think about where your money is going. Counterfeit products not only harm legitimate businesses, but the U.S. economy as well.
“These profits, by the way, fuel all kinds of criminal enterprises around the world,” Lord said.
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