Say No To A Counterfeit Christmas: Don’t Mistake A Crime For A Bargain

We all want the best for our children at Xmas, which often means brand names, but many of us can’t afford top dollar for ourselves or our children. The pressure to find a bargain is constant, some of us find it difficult to identify fake goods, and no-one is immune to turning a blind eye to an offer of ‘not so genuine’ goods at Xmas. After all, what harm can it do?

We appreciate that fake items might be of poorer quality than the real thing but when we pay less we don’t expect the same quality. What we don’t often appreciate is that counterfeit goods can be faulty, they can be dangerous, they undermine legitimate business, and the trade in counterfeit goods fuels organised crime. Counterfeit crime is anything but victimless or harmless.

A recent report from the Centre for Economic and Business Research claimed that counterfeit goods cost the UK economy £17.3bn and destroyed 72,000 British jobs in 2016. The rise of online shopping has made this worse with UK consumers now twice as likely to see fakes on sale online as they were the year before.

The ease of internet buying – whether it be sports goods, tickets, clothes, toys, luxury goods, cigarettes, alcohol or prescription drugs – also means our teenage children are just as vulnerable as we are to the temptations of buying counterfeit goods; possibly more so. But what can be done?

Spotting fake-counterfeit goods

Many of us know how to identify fake or counterfeit goods – not least from the reputation of those who are selling them. For others, especially children who may be less experienced in spotting fakes, here are some simple tips; make sure your children are aware of them if you think they are at risk:

  • If the price is too good to be true then the goods are probably fake – don’t be tempted.
  • Look at the packaging – quality, branded goods do not come in plastic wrapping with no identifying markings.
  • Look at labels, logos and quality marks – look out for missing or badly stitched logos and missing authentification holograms.
  • Look out for simple errors in production, from spelling mistakes to ‘off’ colours.
  • Look for poor quality – the most obvious tell-tale sign of a fake is that it doesn’t match up to the quality of the real thing.

Spotting websites that sell counterfeit goods

There are usually several simple ways to help you spot a site selling fakes. For example, look for grammar and spelling errors on the websites. Be suspicious of deeply discounted prices. Look at the “contact us” section, if there’s no physical address or working phone number, beware. Finally, make sure that if you are sharing personal financial information it is over a secure site. Look for “https” (rather than “http”) when submitting payment information and, also, look for a highlighted lock symbol in your web browser.

This list is not exhaustive; for more tips visit the Coventry Trading Standards link below.


Take note – you have the legal right to a refund if you unknowingly buy something that’s fake or counterfeit – but no rights if you knew the items were fake.

To knowingly buy fake goods is to take the whole risk of them being faulty or dangerous on yourself, as well as the knowledge that you are supporting organised crime.

For further information on how to spot and report counterfeit goods, and how to get a refund where this is possible, visit the following:

or call the Citizens Advice Consumer helpline on 03454 04 05 06.

Our thanks to Coventry Citizens Advice (CCA) for submitting this article to us. For more information, contact your local CA offices or visit