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Identification of counterfeit products online

15 March 2017

European Consumer Centres receive many complaints from consumers who have knowingly or unknowingly bought a counterfeit product online, or have not received a product
confiscated by Customs. Counterfeit products have traditionally been luxury items, such as design bags and electronics, but nowadays they can be found in practically all product groups, from toys to medication. Counterfeit products, more of which are now available due to online trading, may not only be bad for people’s health but also pose a genuine safety risk.

The Finnish Copyright Act forbids the import of pirated products, such as counterfeit music and film copies. This means that customs may intercept an online purchase to find out whether an industrial property or copyright infringement has occurred.

How to identify counterfeit products and
what to do if you receive one?

  • Check to see if you can find the seller’s contact information on its website.It is not a good sign if there is only a PO Box address. You can also take the website’s address and enter it into who.is and scamadviser.com.
  • Use search engines giving other consumers’ evaluations of the seller.
  • Check the product’s authenticity, for example by comparing the logo and its position on the product with products on the brand’s official website.
  • Check whether there is a list of the brand’s authorised dealers, or information on known sellers of fake products.
  • Compare the price with products on the official website. Do not trust websites that have extremely tempting offers online.
  • Check the order terms: is there any mention of right to return, for example?
  • Beware of websites where the language or pictures are of poor quality. However, bear in mind that some websites offering counterfeit products have been created very professionally.
  • Protect your payments. Favour payment with a credit card or payment methods that can be cancelled, such as PayPal. Avoid other payment methods. Ensure that the browser’s address bar has either a closed lock icon or https:// before the address.
  • If you only realise that a product is fake upon receiving it, check with your bank or credit card company whether you can demand a chargeback.
  • If you realise you have received a counterfeit product, inform Customs. Also contact the brand’s official representative, telling them what the products are and how you got them. Because they own the brand for the products, they can report fraudulent websites to the correct parties.

European Consumer Centres disseminate information on matters related to cross-border trade and help consumers to resolve cross-border disputes through mediation. European Consumer Centres do not have executive powers in the way that supervisory authorities do, and cannot therefore order sanctions or intervene in acts of counterfeiting.


Updated 8.5.2017 Print