August 4, 2016

Counterfeit Paraphernalia is Fool’s Gold: How to Avoid the Counterfeit Trade during the 2016 Summer Olympic Games

browing websiteAs millions descend upon Rio for the 2016 Summer Olympic Games, businesses and fans alike prepare their spread of Olympic souvenirs. From team flags and training gear to mugs and magnets, consumers will take their pick, forking over cash in exchange for official Olympic products.

The souvenir trade not only allows visitors to take a piece of the Olympics home with them, it also stimulates the economy.

And yet, another trade exists in the shadows: the online counterfeit trade.

Reports of fraudulent ticket websites and fake Zika news apps have already swept the Olympic landscape, with victims losing hundreds of dollars to deceptive cyber criminals.

Many counterfeit operatives lure unwitting consumers into purchasing phony Olympic goods with glitzy advertisements of sale and clearance items.

Once online shoppers have entered into a counterfeit operative’s online domain, advanced cyber criminals can gain access to data stored on shoppers’ computers, such as bank account information, email history, and photos.

One wrong click and valuable personal information falls into a stranger’s hands.

With so much at stake, it’s important to protect yourself from counterfeit scams.

Ahead of tomorrow’s opening ceremony, here are 5 ring-worthy tips to ensuring the websites you’re visiting are selling genuine Olympic products:

  1. Look for the https://

The “s” stands for secure. An https:// marker on a website signals the authentication of that website’s information exchange process. You can be confident that if you attempt to communicate with the website’s server – say, enter your email address or credit card information – you will be communicating with the right people. Websites without the “s” are vulnerable to middle-man eavesdropping, tampering, and stealing during the information exchange process.

  1. Install your updates

It’s important to use the newest version of a modern web browser. Browser updates often involve relevant security updates. If you’re operating an outdated browser, you’re likely vulnerable to security threats and breaches addressed in newer versions.

  1. Beware of advertisements

Advertisements flash on the edge of your browser screen, beckoning you to click. Not all of these advertisements are malicious, but it is often difficult to differentiate between legitimate advertisements and dishonest ones. Rather than enter a website through an advertisement portal and risk entering a dangerous domain, go directly to the website via the URL. If the advertisement doesn’t include a URL, consult a trusted search engine to locate the product for which you’re searching.

  1. Watch for errors

Spelling, grammar, and syntax errors are a sign of a counterfeit retailer. Retailers selling official Olympic goods will maintain impeccable websites and associated communication. If you receive a message or encounter a website riddled with mistakes, exit immediately.

  1. Go with your gut

Official brand sneakers for $20? Replica jersey for $30? These deals seem too good to be true. And they probably are. If your instincts are telling you something isn’t right, listen.

For more information on counterfeiting, please visit our report: Measuring the Magnitude of Global Counterfeiting. Good luck to all of the athletes competing in the 2016 Summer Olympic Games!

Courtney Paul serves as the associate manager of communications for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Global Intellectual Property Center. 

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