By Kasie Brill, Vice President of Brand Protection & Strategic Initiatives
Experts anticipate summer 2022 to be the busiest travel season in recent memory, with people eager to make plans unencumbered by pandemic restrictions. According to Travel + Leisure, travel will likely generate almost $2 trillion of the U.S. economy in 2022.
For many of us, it’s been two-plus years without a vacation, which means it’s been two-plus years since we’ve taken stock of our travel essentials. Whether you’re browsing online storefronts or you plan to shop at your destination for what you need, the U.S. Chamber is encouraging everyone to Shop Smart this summer and avoid getting ripped off by counterfeiting criminals.
Counterfeiting criminals know what’s on your packing list, and they’re churning out substandard – even dangerous – dupes of the hottest items. Already, enforcement officials are warning consumers against:
- Fake sunscreen filled with chemicals that can damage your skin
- Fake toys – like sand shovels and buckets – that hide undisclosed choking hazards and heavy metals that can make kids sick
- Fake electronics, including portable phone chargers, that melt, and catch fire
- Fake COVID-19 testing kits that don’t work and fake face masks without the proper filtration technology to keep you safe
Don’t let counterfeit goods ruin your hard-earned trip. Educate yourself, so you can protect yourself and your family, and then help spread the word. It’s easy to learn to Shop Smart with these 10 tips:
- Trust your instincts: If it’s too good to be true, it probably is.
- Insist on secure transactions: Make sure your payments are submitted via websites beginning with the https:// (the “s” stands for secure) and look for a lock symbol at the bottom of your browser.
- Watch for missing charges: Criminals trafficking in counterfeit goods often do not report their sales to financial authorities, and so they will omit sales tax and other fees. This often amounts to a noticeable difference in the final price. Buyer beware.
- Seek quality assurance in the secondary market: Reputable and reliable resellers have comprehensive inspection and authentication procedures and technicians to inspect the equipment they sell.
- Be careful purchasing medicine online: Over 96% of online pharmacies do not meet safety or legal standards. To find an accredited digital pharmacy, verify with the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy.
- Be vigilant when buying abroad: When shopping on international websites, look for trusted vendors that use identifiable privacy security safeguards and have reasonable return policies.
- Guard your personal information: Illicit websites often install malware that can steal your credit card information and other information stored on your computer.
- Scrutinize labels, packaging, and contents: Look for missing or expired dates on perishable products, broken or non-existent safety seals, false warranty information, or otherwise unusual packaging.
- Report fake products: Report unsafe counterfeit products to U.S. Customs Border and Protection or the National IPR Center.
- Spread the word: Share these tips! Teach your family, friends and coworkers about counterfeits.