According to a recent article from Vogue UK, one in five online shoppers has been tricked into buying counterfeit designer goods. We’re all for cheaper-priced versions of our favorite designer items (isn’t that what Forever 21 and H&M are for?), but that doesn’t include being scammed in to buying a fake. But, according to the report, that’s more likely than not to happen; with over 9,000 websites selling designer fakes, it’s easier than you think to get caught in a scam.
We’ve got seven tips for how to avoid falling for a fake this holiday shopping season:
1. Price-check. As Lucky Mag points out, if the price of a designer product sounds too good to be true, it probably is (except in the rare case of Net-A-Porter’s annual designer sale!). Be especially wary of brands that never go on sale; if you’ve found a Louis Vuitton bag for 25-50% off the going price, and on a website you’ve never heard of before, chances are, it’s fake. You haven’t accidentally stumbled upon the best deal ever–you’re being scammed. Make sure to comparison-shop to see if the price you’re getting seems feasible, or totally unbelievable.
2. Verify the website. How can you tell whether you’re shopping the official Christian Louboutin website, or one of its countless counterfeits? For one, you can can check their social media. If the site links to the official social media pages (Facebook, Twitter, etc), it is the real deal (same for if the official social media accounts link back to the site). Secondly, does the website include corporate information like investor relations, a directory of staff (with contact information), a customer service number, legal docs like terms and conditions, and other public listing that would make them easy to pursue for fraud in court? Then it is most likely the real, verified company site and can be trusted. Also, look for verification on the website–McAfee and Verisign stamps verify site authenticity.
3. Check the product name & spelling. The only official UGG boots are sold under the name “UGG Australia.” While abbreviated versions – like UGGs, Ugg Boots, and Uggs – are commonly used in vernacular, when you’re looking to purchase a pair, make sure that the retailer lists them that exact way – or they could be fakes. Similarly, look for mispellings: Christian Louboutons, Louise Vuitton, Diane von Furstenburg.
4. Check the product itself. Know what distinguishes the authentic purse, or watch, or shoes you’re buying from a knockoff. Whether it’s exact logo placement, or a trademark stamp on the inside, or the hardware and stitching, be aware of the little details that tell the real from the fake. It helps to take some pictures of the actual product (just pop into Neiman Marcus with your camera phone), and then compare them with the seller’s/site’s picture
5. Did it ever exist? Some fakes aren’t even knock-offs of actual products — the scammers just take the logo and print of the designer and adapt them. According to these tips posted on eBay about how to avoid fake Louis Vuitton bags, you should ask to see your bag on at a local Louis Vuitton boutique, check their official website, or order a catalog to verify that the bag you are purchasing was in fact made at some point in the company’s history.
6. Check the sellers rating. If you are purchasing the bag on eBay, make sure the seller’s rate isn’t below 96% when purchasing luxury goods, the Lucky article points out. Also, beware of stock photos. Ask to see a picture of the actual merchandise before buying. Don’t be afraid to pester the seller with questions, and request more pictures.
7. Use PayPal. If possible, use PayPal to fund your purchase. The company has a money-back guarantee on fake goods–but if you’ve done your homework with tips 1-6, you should be safe.
Pstttt…while we despise a counterfeit product, we don’t mind a little discount copy-catting. Check out our “Test Tests” on s Vince Camuto vs. Rag & Bone booties, Miss Selfridge vs. DanniJo collar necklaces, and Prada vs. Nine West smoking slippers!