Cyber Monday Means Bargains, Convenience…and Counterfeits

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The National Crime Prevention Council provides tips to keep you clear of counterfeits when shopping online this holiday season

The National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC) says the convenience of shopping online around the holidays can come at a great cost, because counterfeiters are seeking to take advantage of savvy online shoppers looking for deals that are too good to be true. Since 2005, Cyber Monday has provided shoppers a convenient way of bargain hunting from their homes even after Black Friday deals have come and gone. This year, NCPC says consumers should be aware of the counterfeit merchandise that is flooding the market.

To help combat counterfeits and other forms of intellectual property (IP) theft, NCPC has been working with the Bureau of Justice Assistance, U.S. Department of Justice on a public education campaign to raise awareness of its dangers and to provide consumers with information they need to protect themselves. The latest product of this joint effort is an online video featuring NCPC President and CEO Ann M. Harkins, and Lev Kubiak, director of the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR Center).

In the video, Ms. Harkins states, “Intellectual property theft hurts real people. It is not a victimless crime. It hurts the global economy and it supports international organized crime as well as domestic gang activity.”

NCPC has also published a recent blog post titled, “Counterfeit Grinches Lure You With Bargains,” in preparation for online holiday shopping, when consumers will be inundated with limited-time, unbeatable offers—many of which may contain links to counterfeit goods and illegitimate websites.

These counterfeit sites can expose visitors to identity theft, put consumers at risk for health and safety concerns, and steal millions of dollars from legitimate businesses. NCPC’s public education campaign aims to further reduce demand for counterfeit and pirated products and to remind all consumers that IP theft is just like shoplifting, stealing, or robbery.

To avoid being duped online, consumers should keep in mind the following:

  • Before surfing the Internet, secure your personal computers by updating your security software. Everyone’s computer should have anti-virus, anti-spyware, and anti-spam software, as well as a good firewall installed.
  • Keep your personal information private and your password secure. Do not respond to requests to “verify” your password or credit card information unless you initiated the contact. Legitimate businesses will not contact you in this manner.
  • Beware of “bargains” from companies with whom you are unfamiliar—if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!
  • Use secure websites for purchases. Look for the icon of a locked padlock at the bottom of the screen or “https” in the URL address.
  • Shop with companies you know and trust. Check for background information if you plan to buy from a third party vendor, or a new or unfamiliar company.
  • To avoid purchasing counterfeit products, carefully examine the products you want to buy for signs of missing information (manufacturing information, warranty, product codes, etc.), broken or missing safety seals, different or incomplete packaging, and subtle or obvious changes to a company logo.

About the National Crime Prevention Council
The National Crime Prevention Council is the nonprofit leader in crime prevention. For more than 30 years, our symbol of safety, McGruff the Crime Dog®, has delivered easy-to-use crime prevention tips that protect what matters most—you, your family, and your community. Since 1982, NCPC has continuously provided the American public with comprehensive educational materials, training programs, and effective crime prevention messaging, delivered in large part through its vast network of more than 4,600 state and local law enforcement agencies, crime prevention associations, community groups, foundations, and corporate partners. For more information on how NCPC can be a public safety expert for you or how to “Take A Bite Out of Crime®,” visit http://www.ncpc.org.

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Sara Khalatbari

Michelle Boykins
@McGruffatNCPC
since: 10/2009
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