Duped shoppers spend around £82 million a year buying fake designer brands online from web site crooks who set up shop selling counterfeit goods.
The problem of who to trust when shopping online has triggered the launch of a new official web site Brand-i where consumers can check out if the web site is an official supplier before parting with any cash.
Buying from a Brand-i listed site gives consumers confidence that they are paying for genuine brands as the site is backed by the government’s Trading Standards Institute.
The site has a free directory of luxury goods – and more suppliers are added all the time.
Some of the big fashion and sport names on the site include premier league clubs Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur, alongside fashion labels Chanel and Ted Baker.
Besides a directory, Brand-i also has a safe shopping checklist for buying online:
- Don’t assume the trader is in the UK just because the web site as a ‘.co.uk’ tag. Genuine businesses will list their address and customer service phone numbers on the site, but even these can mislead buyers as fraudsters will include false details and a Skype online phone number that is routed overseas.
- If you spend more than £100, make the purchase on a credit as you may have some protection from the card provider.
- Check the domain owner at http://www.allwhois.com if you have any doubts about who you are dealing with or check the business at Companies House for free
- Don’t let a slick site fool you – but check out content, spelling and grammar. Poor English and words like cheap, genuine or authentic are not common on designer brand web sites.
- Search online to see if other shoppers have left comments about the firm – remember they can add good comments anywhere themselves, but are less likely to leave criticism.
- Follow your instincts – why should that online store have the same goods as a reputable brand at a much cheaper price? Check out the store in the Brand-i directory [LINK: http://www.brand-i.org] or with the brand directly.
If you have doubts about a store or think online fraudsters have conned you, report them to Brand-i or talk to your local trading standards office for advice.