THE TRUE COST OF COUNTERFEITS

Counterfeit products aren’t just lower-quality versions that essentially do the same thing as the authentic product.

They’re unregulated, dangerous and put you (and your children) at risk for injury, illness and identity theft.

THE SHOP SAFE ACT 2020

While most people think of a knock-off Louis Vuitton bag when they hear the word, 'counterfeit', the reality is: no industry is spared and fake kids products are quickly becoming a very dangerous problem.

The Shop Safe Act 2020 introduced by bipartisan lawmakers is designed to protect both customers and business owners. The proposed legislation would hold e-commerce companies like Amazon or eBay liable for counterfeit products sold on their platforms. If passed, there will be a series of steps that e-commerce platforms must take to prevent the sale of knockoffs by third-party sellers on their platforms.

"Consumer lives are at risk because of dangerous counterfeit products that are flooding the online marketplace," Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.) said in a statement. "Congress must create accountability to prevent these hazardous items from infiltrating the homes of millions of Americans."

It's one thing to say something is safe and quite another to actually be safe. That's why we feel it's imperative to flag the issue of counterfeit products being advertised and sold on social media platforms and third-party websites like Amazon and eBay.


Counterfeits are not tested for safety.

Online marketplaces like Amazon, eBay and Facebook are not legally responsible1 for any unregulated products sold on their platforms. This means anything from car seats to baby bottles to strollers to toys can be sold without safety-testing and certifications.

Counterfeits can contain toxic materials.

In order for someone to sell a stroller, play-kitchen or baby carrier at half the price of the manufacturer or approved seller, they have probably created a counterfeit version. This version is likely to use low-grade or unregulated materials.2 This means metal, plastics, fabrics and paints that could be contaminated with heavy metals, phthalates and bisphenols and more.

Counterfeits put you at risk for money loss and identity theft.

If you’re unhappy with the product you receive, chances are the online seller will be gone3 and trading under a new name before you have time to file a complaint. They will also have your name and contact details, leaving you at risk for fraudulent activity.4

Counterfeits fund crime syndicates.

Wondering where the money you’re spending on counterfeits5 is going? Sadly, it’s potentially funding a crime syndicate6 that traffics children, drugs, and guns. As a global, multi-billion dollar issue, it’s more important than ever to stop enabling organized crime.

Counterfeits damage the economy.

By purchasing a counterfeit product7, you’re unknowingly denying a tax-paying company the chance to provide jobs that increase the value of the economy8. You’re also most likely supporting a company that does not pay fair wages to its own workers.

Counterfeits are bad for the environment.

With little care shown for manufacturing and production standards, counterfeit products pollute the air, waterways and health of factory workers. They also contribute an enormous amount of waste into landfills every year.

A counterfeit version of the Doona Car Seat Stroller was purchased on Amazon by CNN and taken to the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute as part of a months-long investigation. In a 30 mph crash test, the car seat failed to meet the basic standards set by US regulators and shattered into pieces on impact.

Read more about CNN’s investigation into fake and dangerous kids products sold on Amazon.

HOW DO YOU KNOW IF A PRODUCT IS FAKE?

With counterfeit sellers using actual brand photography, logos and descriptions, determining whether a product is fake or not is becoming increasingly difficult. Below are a few things to look out for.

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When viewing the product online:

  • Check if the seller is an authorized dealer listed on the company’s website.
  • Check the company’s email address and location.
  • Do the reviews look and sound real?
  • Check the manufacturers or approved sellers website for the price. Does it compare? Does it look sensible? (If it’s too good to be true, it most likely is!).
  • Are there spelling and grammatical mistakes?
  • Do they advertise any certifications or safety standards?

If you’ve already received the product:

Compare the product to the authentic brand’s images. Are the logos the same? Do they have the same warning labels? Does it have any spelling mistakes? Touch, feel and inspect it.

THE IMPACT ON BRANDS

Companies like Amazon and eBay are trying to crackdown on the sale of counterfeit goods, however, with millions of sellers, it is difficult to police. The sellers simply shut down and open up under a new name a few days later. Without legislation it has largely fallen onto the brands themselves to try to prevent the sale of copycat products. Brands like Ergobaby are listing their authorized dealers on their website.

"Most troubling, is that the consumer won’t know the difference between our genuine product and the fake. The counterfeiters cut costs by shortening the production process required to form and stabilize the bamboo composite which makes it safe. The result – the counterfeit products have tested as unstable, and leach toxic chemicals into food and beverages. This has created unwarranted health concerns about bamboo fiber which has hurt the industry. EKOBO has made it their mission to be the antithesis of these brands, creating innovative, sustainable and safe products that parents can trust." – EKOBO

"We have shut down over a 1000 counterfeit Shusher postings this year alone. It is an ongoing battle, but we are winning everyday." – Baby Shusher.

Common counterfeits to watch out for:

While every product can be at risk, there are quite a few brands consistently targeted when it comes to counterfeits.


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WHAT TO DO IF YOU THINK YOU’VE BEEN SOLD A COUNTERFEIT PRODUCT

If you think you’ve been sold a counterfeit product, do not use it! Especially if it’s something your baby is traveling in or eating from. The risk of them ingesting a toxic ingredient like lead or BPA is high.

Next, report the online seller to the platform you purchased from as well as STOPfakes.gov. Once you’ve done that, you can attempt to get a refund. When it comes to disposing of the counterfeit product, please don’t donate it because it could put someone else at risk. Either try to recycle it or dispose of it as a landfill.

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HOW TO BE A CONSCIOUS CONSUMER

  • Only shop at authorized dealers.
  • Do your research and find out as much as you can about the product. Check pricing on the manufacturers or approved sellers website.
  • Be wary of secondhand items being sold as ‘never used’ on online marketplaces.
  • Watch out for spelling and grammar mistakes.
  • Participate in toy-recycling programs.
  • Only buy what you truly need.

And remember - If it sounds too good to be true, it most likely is.