7 Common Counterfeits – and How to Avoid Getting Burned

Photo (cc) by James Bond UK

Saving money is a laudable goal, but not when it means taking money out of someone else’s pocket. Counterfeit products have been around for some time, but the rapid rise of e-retail means car trunks and curbside venues aren’t the only method of distribution.

Knock-off products annually cost our global economy roughly $600 billion in legitimate revenue. That’s roughly the price of 250 million Birkin Bags. According to OpSec Security, a brand-protection firm, counterfeits are “directly responsible for the loss of more than 750,000 American jobs. On an individual level, a counterfeit T-shirt for one’s favorite sports team, for example, is not a keepsake if it contains a typo, shrinks when you put it in the laundry, or worse, falls apart.”

But bags, jeans, and music aren’t the only items being copied illegally. Fake coupons are also showing up in larger numbers, thanks once again to the ease of Internet distribution. While there are many reputable websites offering valid printable coupons for free, coupon fraud costs industries tens of millions of dollars each year.

Read on for a guide to identifying and avoiding seven counterfeit products.

1. Coupons

In January 2008, Nestlé Purina Petcare Co. issued 250 coupons for a free bag of dog food. By May 5, almost 2,800 coupons were redeemed for the product. While getting something for free is all well and good, using a falsified coupon is illegal, so avoid being caught by watching out for…

  • no redemption date
  • too good a deal
  • longer-than-normal expiration dates
  • a smudged UPC code with more or less than 12 numbers

Also be suspicious if the provider wants you to pay upfront fees.

2. Gem stones

While imitation diamonds are an attractive alternative to the high prices of the real thing, you don’t want to present your fiance with a ring – only to find out it’s a fake.

Look for certification from the American Gem Society Laboratories or the Gemological Institute of America and learn about their service programs. Gordon’s Jewelers, for example, provides a lifetime guarantee and offers coupon codes throughout the year. You’ll also want to read customer reviews and research return policies. In addition, beware of “composite” stones, which are usually several gems smushed together. Watch for excessively creative names, like American ruby (actually a garnet) or Australian jade (a quartz).

3. UGGs (the boots)

Imitation UGGly boots sell more units than the legitimate versions, which is no doubt why UGG Australia posted a counterfeit education page on their website. It’s difficult to tell the difference, so the official site also provides a list of authorized retail and online merchants, along with pictures of fake boots.

4. Rolex watches

The flat fact is you can’t buy a real Rolex from a blanket spread on the curb of a busy street. While the fake may look superficially real, you can identify the true brand by its multi-colored movement, precision engraving, and authentic logo. Check out this Texas watch dealer’s list of tell-tale signs.

5. Sunglasses

Because Americans lose shades more frequently than they post Facebook updates, you’ll find them just about anywhere. Locating authentic Ray-Bans or Oakleys, however, is another matter. You just can’t pick up these primo sunglasses at 7-Eleven. Instead, find online coupon codes for a direct brand like Fossil, or shop at reputable eyeglass stores. You’ll pay a premium but the shades will last longer and include quality UVC protection.

To identify counterfeits, visit the brand’s official website and research where the sunglasses were made. Most high-end brands feature a “made in” label somewhere on the packaging or frames.

6. Purses

Coach bags made the WalletPop.com list of “five most-counterfeited brands online.” That’s an honor I’m sure the Coach creators could do without. Louis Vuitton is another frequently copied brand. The astronomically expensive (and highly desired) Birkin bags also come in for their fair share of attention. For a guide to separating real bags from the fake, fake, fake, check out this eBay guide.

7. Sports jerseys

Fans snap up unauthorized jerseys because the authentic versions can cost as much as a ticket to an NFL game. Still, why would you want to rip off your favorite team? If you support them every week with cheers and beers, then it’s time to fork over the honest cash.

Remember, only league-licensed apparel is legal to sell and buy. Plus, the quality is much better than the counterfeit versions, so the fakes are easy to spot.

Andrea Woroch is a consumer and money-saving expert for Kinoli Inc. Visit AndreaWoroch.com or follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Read Next
10 Things That Can Ding Your Social Security Payments
10 Things That Can Ding Your Social Security Payments

Here are 10 things that could mean less money in your pocket during retirement.

11 ‘Disposable’ Items You Should Be Reusing
10 Ways to Nail Savings on Your Remodeling Project
10 Ways to Nail Savings on Your Remodeling Project

Here’s how to save on your next remodeling project with discounted materials and more tips and tricks.

15 Ways Retirees Can Make Their Savings Last Longer
15 Ways Retirees Can Make Their Savings Last Longer

Study these strategies to make your golden years gleam.

2-Minute Money Strategy: How Should I Invest My Retirement Savings?
2-Minute Money Strategy: How Should I Invest My Retirement Savings?

If retirement is on the horizon, you can’t afford to take too much risk, but you also need to make as much as possible. Here are your options.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
9 Mistakes Everyone Makes When Shopping on Amazon
9 Mistakes Everyone Makes When Shopping on Amazon

Are you losing money due to any of these missteps?

Can a Divorced Widow Claim Her First Husband’s Social Security Benefits?
Can a Divorced Widow Claim Her First Husband’s Social Security Benefits?

The rules are complicated when it comes to eligibility for survivors benefits.

8 Tips for Retiring Comfortably on Social Security Alone
8 Tips for Retiring Comfortably on Social Security Alone

It’s never too early to start learning how to live well while living on less.

Am I Eligible for My Mother’s Social Security Benefit?
Am I Eligible for My Mother’s Social Security Benefit?

Can an adult daughter tap into her late mother’s benefit?

27 Things You Should Never Pay For — and How to Get Them for Free
27 Things You Should Never Pay For — and How to Get Them for Free

When you know the tricks, you can save big on all kinds of useful things that others pay for.

11 Generic Products You Should Buy at Costco
11 Generic Products You Should Buy at Costco

Not all generics are worthwhile, but these are among the best from Costco’s Kirkland Signature brand.

15 Free Streaming Services to Watch While Stuck at Home
15 Free Streaming Services to Watch While Stuck at Home

These free movie streaming sites offer thousands of movies and TV shows, including recent releases and beloved classics. If you love free movies, online sites are where you need to look for the best list of features that are just one easy click away.

This Gas Station Scam Is Victimizing More Drivers
This Gas Station Scam Is Victimizing More Drivers

For the second straight year, a growing number of Americans believe they’ve fallen prey to this scam.

This Gift Really Will Last a Lifetime
This Gift Really Will Last a Lifetime

Would you spend $10 to change your life, or someone else’s?

10 Things I Always Buy at Trader Joe’s
10 Things I Always Buy at Trader Joe’s

From snacks to sweets to side dishes, stock your cart with these time-tested favorites on your next TJ’s run.

9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again
9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again

The warehouse store offers an enormous selection, but these products aren’t coming back.

3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free
3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free

With a little ingenuity, you can cut Office costs to zero.

6 Legal Documents Retirees Need — but Don’t Have
6 Legal Documents Retirees Need — but Don’t Have

Few retirees have all of these documents that are crucial to their golden years — especially during a pandemic.

4 Tax Credits That Will Be More Generous in 2021
4 Tax Credits That Will Be More Generous in 2021

If you are eligible for these tax breaks, they will slash your federal income tax bill — dollar for dollar.

15 Amazon Purchases That We Are Loving Right Now
15 Amazon Purchases That We Are Loving Right Now

These practical products make everyday life a little easier.

19 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a 2-Year Degree
19 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a 2-Year Degree

There are easy high-paying majors available in the U.S. — and no bachelor’s degree is required. We’re here to help you find easy degrees that pay well.

The Worst Day of the Year to Buy a Used Car
The Worst Day of the Year to Buy a Used Car

If you need a new set of wheels, avoid shopping on this day.

Here’s How Much Your Next Stimulus Check Will Be
Here’s How Much Your Next Stimulus Check Will Be

While much remains unknown about the new coronavirus relief package, this much is clear.

7 Stores That Match — or Beat — Amazon Prices
7 Stores That Match — or Beat — Amazon Prices

These retailers offer some of the most consumer-friendly price-match policies anywhere.

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.