Trading standards warn about online counterfeit Christmas gifts

The trading standards service in Oxfordshire has said that people should be careful about buying gifts online as Christmas approaches. It has already recorded complaints about online retailers rising by nearly a third compared with last year’s figures.

The trading standards service is said that many counterfeiters are setting up online stores where they are selling lower quality goods and for the large part they can get away with it. The Anti-counterfeiting Group have said that around £30 billion a year is spent on counterfeit goods in the UK and around the fifth of these take place on the Internet.

Sixty complaints have been recorded since April this year about counterfeit goods and around 50% of these products were bought online. This is a significant increase on the number of counterfeit goods that were bought last year. The service has said that most of the counterfeit products have been clothing, accessories and alcohol. Last year two of the most commonly counterfeit products were GHD hair straighteners and UGG boots.

Since April this year over 100 bottles of fake wine and vodka have been seized in Oxfordshire region. Counterfeit wine is created by people buying cheap wine and then putting an expensive label on it, vodka is more of a risk as it often it has a higher level of methanol which can be harmful to health.

People should be aware about the health risks when buying counterfeit alcohol and should be extra vigilant against it. Retailers have also been duped into buying counterfeit alcohol and all retailers are being urged to source their alcohol from a legitimate supplier.

The head of the trading standards service in Oxfordshire is Richard Webb and he has recently commented, “People should be extra vigilant against counterfeit products as in most cases they will be unlikely to get their money back. If you pay by credit card and the value is over £100 then you should be up to recover the money from your credit card company.

“A common trick that these fraudsters do is to set up a website that looks like it is based in the UK by using a .co.uk domain extension. The problem is these web addresses are not exclusive to the UK and they can be set up by anyone, anywhere in the world.

If you have not received a package from abroad then it is very unlikely you’re going to be able to do anything about it as the person selling the ‘goods’ will just disappear. Consumers should also be aware that there is no obligation of the actual brand you wanted to purchase to do anything about your counterfeit goods.”

If you want to avoid being taken advantage of then there are steps you can take. For one, it is a good idea to make sure that the website has a postal address in the UK, if it’s just a mailbox number this is not good enough. Also, you should check that there is a landline phone number and dial it to make sure that you are calling a legitimate business. It is also possible to check out the registration of a website through a WHOIS service.