January 29, 2018

#ShopSafe for the Super Bowl


The countdown is on. This weekend, thousands of people will ignite the wintry Twin Cities for the much-anticipated 2018 Super Bowl; millions more will tune in on television.

Equipped with the latest jerseys and the newest fan gear, these football fans become Tom Brady and Alshon Jeffrey overnight.

Wait – Alshon Jeffrey? It’s Alshon Jeffery. Did that jersey spell your favorite player’s name wrong?

Before big events like the Super Bowl, criminals take every opportunity to trick consumers into buying low-quality, even dangerous counterfeit goods. They hawk goods in parking lots and on sidewalks outside of the stadium. But more commonly, they sell goods on the Internet, shipping directly to consumers through the mail.

Year after year, Super Bowl matchups come and go, but the fake merchandise issue remains. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) agents conduct year-long anti-counterfeit operations, targeting sporting goods and fan-gear. Before the 2017 Super Bowl, officials seized more than 260,000 counterfeited items valued at $20 million. The year before, it was 450,000 items valued at $39 million.

These are big numbers. But why do they matter?

No.1: Counterfeits deliver poor quality and perpetuate an unsafe shopping environment. Counterfeit goods may often be less expensive than genuine goods, but they’re also often of inferior quality. Fans who purchase counterfeits open gear with distorted or faded logos and graphics, blatant misspellings, and seams that fall apart after one wash. Some fans have even reported dyes that stain their skin and reek of a strong chemical smell. These are hardly desirable product features. Unfortunately, many counterfeit sellers don’t give realistic previews of their products, making it difficult for fans to quality check and authenticate.

Additionally, bogus websites are often extremely unsafe – the moment purchasers submit their personal information, like their address and their credit card information, they are surrendering their safety to an unknown seller.

No.2: Counterfeit funds illicit activities. Counterfeiting funnels money into organizations involved in criminal activity around the world. It’s not a victimless crime – exploited and child laborers and even terrorist networks lurk just beyond our sights and screens.

No.3: Counterfeit harms businesses and steals jobs. Counterfeit products hurt legitimate business owners, stealing market share and profiting off of others’ creativity. And when businesses suffer, so do their employees. Our research shows that intellectual property – like the trademarked logos and slogans attached to our favorite football teams – supports more than 45 million jobs in the U.S. and 1.3 million jobs in Minnesota, accounting for 41.7% of the state’s private sector employment. Purchasing fake fan gear to wear in the stadium can risk employment and job growth for local workers outside.

So, are you ready to #ShopSafe for the Super Bowl? When it comes to counterfeit, the best offense is a good defense. Let’s start with five top tips.

  1. Only purchase known brands from known sellers that bear the official holographic marks of authenticity. Shop only at licensed NFL retailers in your area and seek quality assurance in secondary markets.
  2. Don’t purchase merchandise from websites that lack the “s” in https. “S” = security for your personal and financial information.
  3. Watch for sloppy design, misspellings or grammar mistakes, and low-quality images on the websites you visit. Avoid websites without a proper business address and customer service contact information.
  4. Once you receive a product, scrutinize the details. Look for any irregularities in stitched letters and numbers, tags, and packaging. If your product seems suspicious, alert the experts.
  5. When you find a deal that’s ‘too good to be true’, take a knee and end the play. Your gut instinct is one of your best tools to fight fakes.

 

Now you have the facts. Use them. Report fake products and spread the #ShopSafe message to your fellow football enthusiasts. The Super Bowl is for football, family, and friends… just not for fakes.

 

 

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