New toolkit helps consumers avoid scams while holiday shopping

The holiday shopping season is upon us and with that can come scammers looking to lure in unsuspecting holiday shoppers.

The National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR Center) is launching a new holiday shopping toolkit to help consumers protect themselves from substandard or even hazardous counterfeit toys, electronics, cosmetics and other products.

The toolkit includes online shopping do’s and don’ts, ways to protect financial and banking information, educational videos and infographics, and general information on how to spot fake merchandise.  

The IPR Center warns that counterfeit products not only cheat the consumer with substandard and potentially hazardous products, but the websites used can also put shoppers at risk of having their data stolen.

Counterfeit electronics can overheat and explode, bicycle helmets can break upon impact, phony cosmetics and health care products can be made with dangerous or unsanitary ingredients that should not be applied to the skin, and seasonal items for the home, like holiday lights, can be poorly wired and ignite fires.

Among the tips the IPR Center is providing for holiday shopping:

  • Purchase goods only from reputable retailers and be wary of third-party vendors.
  • Read product reviews on websites and research companies you aren’t familiar with.
  • Check seller reviews and verify there is a working phone number and address for the seller, in case you have questions about the legitimacy of a product.
  • If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Don’t buy expensive items from third party websites.
  • Take advantage of security features. Passwords and other security tools add layers of protection if used appropriately.
  • Check privacy policies. Take precautions when providing information, and make sure to check published privacy policies to see how a company will use or distribute your information.
  • Check your statements. Keep a record of your purchases and copies of confirmation pages and compare them to your bank statements. If there is a discrepancy, report it immediately.

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