MASSPIRG Education Fund calls attention to counterfeit products and fake reviews

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New tip guides help consumers navigate what is authentic or fake when shopping online

MASSPIRG Education Fund

BOSTON — Counterfeit products have crept into every sector of the economy. While counterfeiters used to focus on fake luxury items, such as purses or shoes, now, counterfeit products such as pharmaceuticals or batteries have become too common online. Unlike a knockoff accessory, these counterfeit products can threaten consumers’ health and safety, with some counterfeit pharmaceuticals containing incorrect amounts of active ingredients and some counterfeit batteries overheating and causing fires.

To help consumers shop smartly, MASSPIRG Education Fund is releasing three new tip guides:

(1)  How to avoid counterfeit products online in general,

(2)  How to detect counterfeit products related to COVID-19and

(3)  How to recognize fake online reviews of products and services.

“Counterfeit products can be found all over online marketplaces. Unfairly, the burden is on the consumer to identify these fakes. Our tip guides will help consumers who are unfamiliar with brand logos and product certification,” said Deirdre Cummings, Consumer Program Director, MASSPIRG Education Fund. “But crooks will be crooks. Counterfeit products are online to stay until we have stronger legislation to protect consumers.”

To that end, MASSPIRG supports the INFORM Act, introduced in March 2021, which would require online marketplaces to verify high-volume third-party sellers of consumer products.

Fake online reviews are another deceptive tactic unscrupulous people use to influence consumers to buy products. Whether a fake review is positive or negative, any inaccurate or manipulative review is harmful to the consumer who is tricked into purchasing or not purchasing a product.