Fake Airbags and Cough Drops and Car Seats—Oh, My!

Would you notice if your cough drops are fake? Or if your extension cord wasn’t genuine? Or if your contact lenses were counterfeit?

The GIPC stopped people in New York’s Times Square to see if they could spot counterfeit goods. In the final installment of the “Dangerous Fakes” series, see just how hard it is to decide between real and fake.

We’re all familiar with the phrase “don’t judge a book by its cover,” the same could be applied to counterfeits. While the outward appearance may look legitimate, the composition is anything but, and could involve substandard and downright defective materials. From shoes dipped in lead paint to pills packed with printer ink, the opportunities for deception by criminal counterfeiters are endless.

Even experts fall for fakes—and the consequences have real dangers. Just this morning, the government issued a warning to both consumers and mechanics to look out for counterfeit airbags. According to reports, tests by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that “most of the counterfeit bags don’t inflate or fail to inflate properly. In at least one case, a counterfeit bag fired shards of metal shrapnel on impact.”

Consumers can empower themselves to make smart decisions when shopping online or otherwise. From trusting your instincts to scrutinizing labels, GIPC has put together a top 10 list for protecting you and your family from purchasing dangerous fakes.

Tackling the worldwide epidemic of counterfeiting and piracy is an uphill battle and will largely require tough enforcement and global cooperation. However, the first step is to make consumers aware of the problem and equip them with the knowledge to mitigate risks.

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