How to Spot Fake Items when Shopping at US Online Stores
For the most part, using a package forwarding address to buy products from US online stores is pretty safe. Counterfeit goods aren’t very common in the US, and most US merchants aren’t willing to risk their business by breaking the law.
However, small sellers on eBay or other sites that let individual sellers sell items quickly without much verification may occasionally try to sell fake or counterfeit items, even though doing so violates eBay’s terms of service. To make sure the product you’re buying is real and not a fake, follow some of these basic guidelines when buying from US online stores from overseas.
Be Cautious if the Price is Too Low
Low prices are probably the reason why you’re buying from the US in the first place, but be careful. If the price is too low, it might be because the item is a fake.
Try using a price comparison tool like iDeal Chooser (for retail merchandise) or Priceonomics (for used goods) to get a sense of what a reasonable price is. For example, if you find an iPad 3 for only a few hundred dollars, you might want to be suspicious.
Check the Item’s Packaging
This can be a difficult one, because you can’t actually inspect the product up close when buying online from the US. If possible, ask the seller for close-up photos of the packaging. (Most eBay sellers will oblige.)
Packaging with many spelling or printing errors is a dead giveaway. Look for model numbers, bar codes, or other manufacturer information. If this information is missing, it’s a sign that the product may not be legitimate.
Do a Google Search
Many times, simply searching Google for information on counterfeit versions of specific brands or products will give you good clues about how to spot a fake. Try searches like, “How to spot fake Prada” or “iPad real or fake.”
Ask the Seller
If you aren’t sure whether a product for sale is genuine or fake, definitely ask the seller. Selling fake products in the US is illegal, so it’s unlikely that anyone will openly tell you that they’re selling a fake. But, if you have their word that a product is genuine, at least you have valid grounds to ask for a refund if it turns out to be a fake in the end.
What To Do If You Receive a Fake Product from the US
If you thought you were buying a genuine product but realized it was a fake once it was delivered, the first thing to do is to contact the seller. It’s possible that they didn’t even know the product was fake, and will refund your purchase.
If you receive a fake product and the seller won’t accept a return, you should contact eBay or whatever website the seller is using. Selling fake products in the US is illegal, and in some cases eBay will arbitrate if you were sold fake goods.
Your Tips for Spotting Fake US Products Online?
Have you ever received a fake product from a US online store? How did you know it was a fake? Share your tips, stories, or experiences in the comments section.