Social media has been revolutionary for business, but this comes with an obvious drawback – shady businesses get to benefit, too.
Although most social networks prohibit the sale of counterfeit goods, a quick search of any luxury brand name on any social network brings a plethora of results, and it’s always the same thing: countless advertisements and items for sale, carrying world-renowned trademarks.
The most popular social networks for counterfeit goods seems to be Facebook and Instagram. Not only is it illegal to sell these items and use trademarks belonging to other companies, but some buyers might be fooled into believing they are purchasing the real thing.
While authentic luxury goods are never sold on social media by default, not all consumers are aware of this fact, and through effective marketing, could be led to believe otherwise. Besides – sale of fake goods is not limited to luxury. Nowadays, any kind of popular brand is at risk of being imitated through mass produced goods hailing mainly from China and Russia, and bracing the explore feed of millions of Instagram users.
How does it happen?
It’s fairly simple for sellers to start advertising their goods, and if implemented correctly, these goods often spread like wildfire. Counterfeiters can register profiles containing the original brand name – usually a slightly altered version of the brand’s own handle.
Next, they will make use of flash sales, promotions, models and all the most popular hashtags to promote their goods as just a few ways fake profiles get attention. With this, fake goods quickly began to appear in users’ search results in big numbers. The most notorious counterfeiters tend to have thousands of followers, either by having obtained them through illegal means or else as a result of their efficient marketing.
Steps to take
While well-established social networks such as Facebook and Instagram are popular hubs for counterfeiters, a new phenomenon has come to the fore: fake mobile apps, complete with original names and logos.
The best way to avoid falling victim to counterfeiters is to inform yourself of the brand you intend to purchase from, and become acquainted with the way their sell their goods. If their policy states that they only sell from their website and official stores – you know that any other vendors are probably fake. If they have a mobile app to sell their goods, it will most likely be very visible on the homepage of their website. You can follow this link to download their app – and avoid any other app claiming to be this brand.
Similarly, you can find companies’ official social media accounts from their website. Look for a verified logo next to their name – available on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
Finally, when placing a purchase, make sure to only use secure banking methods, and don’t reveal any sensitive information which seems unnecessary.
The risks involved
Counterfeit goods are illegal, and can be seized by customs at any point. However, dealing with counterfeiters could mean more than just having the misfortune of receiving fake goods, or not receiving them at all: sharing personal information with an unsafe app might lead to having your information stolen. In fact, some fake vendors set up shop for the sole purpose of stealing information and money from consumers.
Purchasing certain fake goods could even pose a health and safety risk. Popular purchases include dangerous cosmetics, chargers and electronics which do not comply with any health and safety regulations. Cosmetics may contain toxic ingredients while electronics were often found to have poorly configured circuitry.
It is clear that no matter the product, counterfeit goods are all over social networks, and purchasing them can result in an array of unwanted consequences.