With the holiday giving season in full swing, it’s easy to get drawn in by a fake item in the rush to get your shopping done. Third-party sellers are flooding the internet with deeply discounted electronics and luxury products that turn out to be junk.
Lindsay Knollman and her mom Penny are the latest to be burned by counterfeits. They thought they found a great holiday gift: purchasing some brand new Apple AirPods for just $45 at a local overstock outlet.
"They were Just $45," Penny Knollman said. "Those are usually over $200. I said, 'Are these real?' The man said, 'Yes, they have never been opened.'"
But when Lindsay Knollman tried them on at home, they didn't sound right.
"My music would pause, or they would just randomly disconnect, and I thought that’s not really Apple quality," she said. "There's too many signs they're not real."
Among them, she found the words "Made in California" on the box pushed together, and on top of that, the word California was misspelled. The Knollmans also discovered the cord was held together by cheap tape, not the proper Apple plastic wrapping. They had bought counterfeits.
Holiday shoppers often gullible to fakes
Tony Sabaj of CheckPoint cyber security says online sellers often take advantage of luxury brands to sell fakes around the holidays.
"If it's too good to be true, it's most likely not true," he said.
Before you buy, Sabaj says check to see what the product typically costs, and if it is substantially cheaper, that’s a red flag.
"Nobody has extra inventory that they're trying to dump," he said, "especially in today's market."
Frequently faked brands include Apple, Samsung, Nike, Adidas, Gucci, and other designer-label clothing and handbags, as well as many brands of watches.
It's one thing if you buy a $50 obviously fake Rolex on the street (which really isn't a good idea), but when you pay hundreds of dollars thinking you got the real thing, you are throwing your money away.
Be careful where you shop
Sabaj says it’s important to think twice before you buy from a third-party online retailer or a local overstock store.
"Make sure it's a reputable reseller," he said.
If you buy through a third party listed on a major site like Amazon, Etsy, or eBay, he says you may be able to get a refund. But he says it’s still a good idea to shop with a credit card, as opposed to debit or cash.
"You can go to them and say it was a fake product," he said.
Often the credit card company can block the charge from going through.
Finally, Sabaj says trust your gut and that if you suspect you're buying a fake product, you probably are. Lindsay Knollman and her mom don't want other people tricked like they were with useless Apple fakes.
"It's not what they are, and it's not fair to people," she said.
And since the overstock outlet required them to pay by cash, they have no recourse and no way to get a refund.
So be suspicious, so you don’t waste your money.
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