BBB shares how to spot counterfeit goods online

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The internet has revolutionized how people do their shopping. From clothing, to electronics and even your groceries, there are so many different products at your fingertips. So right now, it's more important than ever to watch out for counterfeit goods.

The President of the Better Business Bureau Steve Bernas is stopped by ABC7 to share how to spot fake merchandise, and discuss what's being done to stop counterfeiting practices.

An in-depth investigative study by Better Business Bureau (BBB) finds that fraudulent consumer goods are ubiquitous, difficult to tell apart from the legitimate products they are counterfeiting, and stem from a large network of organized criminals and credit card processing mechanisms that are willing to support them.

The report recommends:

  • BBB urges the credit card payment processors to engage their full efforts in combating those that provide merchant accounts to sellers of counterfeit goods.
  • U.S. consumers would benefit from a program to help counterfeit victims with chargebacks like the one operated in Canada by the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC). Such a program could help identify fraudulent credit card merchant accounts, bogus websites, and possibly locations from which such goods are being shipped.
  • Law enforcement agencies could make better use of complaint information obtained by BBB, the FTC, and IC3.
  • More study and investigation is needed for websites in China that deliver nothing or where goods are sold deceptively - even if there is no trademark or copyright involved.
  • BBB recommends consumers check the reputation of the seller before making payment at and contact the manufacturer for a listing of authorized sellers.

What to do if you believe you have unwittingly purchased counterfeit goods:

  • Ask for a refund. Victims who don't receive anything when buying online with their credit card, or who receive goods that are counterfeit or not as described, should call the customer service number on the back of their card and request a refund. The report goes into great detail about the process of obtaining a refund and the remedies available to victims.

  • Report counterfeit goods. Contact one or more of the following:

National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) asks victims of counterfeit goods to file a complaint with the IPR Center here.

Better Business Bureau: Victims can file complaints at about online sellers that claim to be in the U.S. or Canada. BBB tries to resolve complaints and may help in getting a refund. There is no cost for this service. BBB also looks for and reports patterns of complaints. Consumers can report scams to BBB Scam Tracker.

Online markets: Victims can complain directly to eBay, Amazon, Facebook and Instagram or other online marketplaces. In addition, Amazon has an "A-Z guarantee" for goods sold by third parties on their site; victims who have purchased counterfeit items from a third-party seller can seek a refund here.

Internet Fraud Complaint Center (IC3): The FBI takes complaints about counterfeit goods. Complain here.

Federal Trade Commission: You can complain to the FTC by calling 877/FTC-Help or file a complaint online.

About BBB

BBB is a nonprofit, business-supported organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. BBB services to consumers are free of charge. BBB provides objective advice, free BBB Business Profiles on more than 5.3 million companies, 11,000 charity reviews, dispute resolution services, alerts and educational information on topics affecting marketplace trust. Please visit for more information.
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