NCPIRG Education Fund calls attention to counterfeit products and fake reviews

New tip guides help consumers navigate what is authentic or fake when shopping online 

RALEIGH, NC (March 11, 2022) – Counterfeit products have crept into every sector of the economy. While counterfeiters used to focus on fake luxury items, such as purses or shoes, now, counterfeit products such as pharmaceuticals or batteries have become too common online. Unlike a knockoff accessory, these counterfeit products can threaten consumers’ health and safety, with some counterfeit pharmaceuticals containing incorrect amounts of active ingredients and some counterfeit batteries overheating and causing fires.

To help consumers shop smartly,. NCPIRG Education Fund is releasing three new tip guides:

  1. How to avoid counterfeit products online in general,
  2. How to detect counterfeit products related to COVID-19 and
  3. How to recognize fake online reviews of products and services.

“Counterfeit products can be found all over online marketplaces. Unfairly, the burden is on the consumer to identify these fakes. Our tip guides will help consumers who are unfamiliar with brand logos and product certification,” said Katie Craig, NCPIRG State Director. “But crooks will be crooks. Counterfeit products are online to stay until we have stronger legislation to protect consumers.”

To that end, NCPIRG Education Fund supports the INFORM Act, introduced in March 2021, which would require online marketplaces to verify high-volume third-party sellers of consumer products.

Fake online reviews are another deceptive tactic unscrupulous people use to influence consumers to buy products. Whether a fake review is positive or negative, any inaccurate or manipulative review is harmful to the consumer who is tricked into purchasing or not purchasing a product.

“Spotting fake reviews does take time, concentration, and sometimes, research. But it’s worthwhile for consumers to differentiate between what’s honest and what’s too good — or bad — to be true,” said Craig. “We applaud the Federal Trade Commission’s use of financial penalties to discourage fabricated endorsements and advocate for the agency to stay tough on companies that use reviews to deceive consumers.”

Our tips guides on counterfeit products and fake online reviews are part of our work in recognition of National Consumer Protection Week 2022. All week,  NCPIRG Education Fund is providing consumer protection tips and tools to help Americans address some of the most common consumer issues that threaten our health, safety or financial security. To see all of our resources for consumers, go to:

North Carolina PIRG Education Fund is an independent, non-partisan group that works for consumers and the public interest. Through research, public education and outreach, we serve as counterweights to the influence of powerful special interests that threaten our health, safety or well-being.

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