What is counterfeiting?

Counterfeiting costs everyone

What is Counterfeiting / Intellectual Property (IP) Theft?

Counterfeiting is a federal and state crime, involving the manufacturing or distribution of goods under someone else's name, and without their permission. Counterfeit goods are generally made from lower quality components, in an attempt to sell a cheap imitation of similar goods produced by brands consumers know and trust.

Just how big is the counterfeiting problem?

Counterfeiting is Big Business.

In Fiscal Year 2013, the Department of Homeland Security seized counterfeit goods valued at over $1.7 billion at U.S. borders.

Globally, the trafficking of counterfeit goods is much larger, and growing. That growth is driven in part by CONSUMER DEMAND.

What types of goods can be counterfeited?

Counterfeit goods span across multiple industries including everything from apparel, accessories, music, software, medications and cigarettes, to automobile and airplane parts, consumer goods, toys and electronics.

Why should you care?

Counterfeiting is not a victimless crime. Counterfeiters often prey on consumer desire for low prices. But that cheap price comes at a high cost to yourself and others:

  • IT'S DANGEROUS: Counterfeit goods are often made using cheap, substandard, and dangerous components that put the health and safety of consumers at risk.
  • IT COULD COST YOU: Purchasing from counterfeit websites puts you at risk for identity theft and credit card fraud when you provide a counterfeit merchant with your information. Downloading or streaming from illegal websites could put you at risk for malware - which can steal your personal or credit card information.
  • IT'S ILLEGAL: Counterfeiting is illegal and purchasing counterfeit products supports illegal activity.
  • IT COSTS YOUR CITY: Counterfeiters do not pay taxes, meaning less money for your city's schools, hospitals, parks and other social programs.
  • IT SUPPORTS CHILD LABOR: Counterfeiters do not pay their employees fair wages or benefits, have poor working conditions, and often use forced or child labor.
  • IT SUPPORTS ORGANIZED CRIME: The profits from counterfeiting sales have been linked to funding organized crime, drug trafficking and even terrorist activity.
  • IT HURTS LEGITIMATE COMPANIES: Legitimate manufacturers devote significant resources to research and development of products and building a reputation for quality among consumers. Counterfeiters, in turn, seek to profit unfairly off of another company's good name. The lost sales and profits that result from this unfair competition translate directly into lower wages and lost jobs, as well as higher prices for consumers.

How can you avoid purchasing fakes?

Look for the "3 P's"

  • PRICE:If the price looks too good to be true, it probably is.
  • PACKAGING: If the product is being sold without its packaging, or the packaging appears to be of low quality, or includes printing errors (for example, blurry pictures, typos, spelling or grammatical errors) it is probably counterfeit.
  • PLACE: Consider where the product is being sold:
    • In-Store: Ask yourself if you would normally expect to find the product sold in this type of environment. Deal only with legitimate, established merchants.
    • Online: Counterfeiters often steal pictures and formatting from the real websites to make their websites look legit, so don't be fooled by a professional-looking website. Check out the fine print in the product descriptions, FAQ's, or "Contact Us" pages. If you find typos, grammatical and spelling errors, or incomplete information, then the site is probably fake.