How to spot fake goods
Whether you're after a new watch, a designer handbag or a pair of UGG boots, here's how to spot a fake...
How many times has someone on the street tried to sell you a fancy designer watch that you know is a fake? Many I suspect. And some of you may have actually bought one with the view that at least it will save you some cash.
But it’s not just street vendors that can tempt us. According to recent research from Moneybookers.com, eight million shoppers have knowingly bought fake goods on the internet. Young women are said to be the worst offenders.
The counterfeit business is growing rapidly, and as a result, legitimate businesses are suffering. However, if you do decide to buy a fake, you're likely to end up with something of poor quality.
So if you're looking for the real deal, just how do you know whether the product you're buying is a fake or not?
The easiest way to tell whether a watch is a fake is the price. If it’s ridiculously low, it’s unlikely to be genuine.
A Rolex watch should be fairly heavy so if it’s feeling a little light, chances are you’re not holding the genuine article. Real Rolex watches also won’t make a ticking sound and there should be a hologram sticker on the caseback.
Genuine Cartier watches, meanwhile, will have the brand name inscribed on the movement – you’ll be able to see this if you remove the caseback. Again, the watch should be quite heavy and if it’s genuine, it will have scratchproof glass. There should also be a cabochon stone on the winder.
And if it’s a Panerais watch you’re after, fake watches usually have the code E0117/1950 on the back, while if you’re looking for a Breitling watch, the logos should be embossed, not printed, onto the dial if it’s genuine. The caseback will also be engraved, not stamped.
Many women adore designer handbags. But if you’re going to splurge on one, make sure it’s genuine.
The genuine article should be made from top-notch material and if it's a leather bag, make sure it actually smells of leather. It should also be fairly heavy and the leather should be a consistent colour all over. The stitching should also be good quality. If there are any loose threads or wonky stitching, chances are, you’ve been stitched up!
Real designer bags are also likely to have the brand name in several places and this will be sewn in – not on a cardboard label hanging off the strap. It’s also a good idea to look for the serial code which is often on a strip of material inside a pocket or the main compartment.
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Counterfeit sunglasses are likely to feel cheap and the designer logo will look cheaply printed. The hinges will also be flimsy and poorly aligned. And be wary if the glasses say they were made in China or Taiwan.
The real thing, however, will feel heavier and more solid and will come with luxurious packaging, including a box, case and tags.
Be warned that counterfeit sunglasses usually don’t offer adequate protection from the sun’s powerful UV rays.
If you’re big on your labels, make sure the designer clothing you’re buying is genuine.
If it’s the real deal, it will be made from good quality material that won’t stretch or shrink easily and the stitching will also be spot on. So try to examine the item closely before you buy. Check for spelling mistakes on the brand name too and it’s also worth giving the buttons a once-over to see whether they have the correct logo printed on them.
UGG boots have been a must-have fashion item for the past few years. As a result, a number of websites have sprung up offering counterfeit products.
Generally-speaking, if you think the boots you’ve seen online are ridiculously cheap, they are likely to be fake. The official UGG Australia website has a list of all of the authorised retailers and online retailers that sell UGG boots. So if you’re planning to buy a pair, make sure you check this out.
Genuine UGG boots will have a thick sole which will have the raised UGG logo on the bottom – a fake boot will be flat and have a thin sole.
If the boots are genuine, the sheepskin fur around the boots will match the colour of the boots themselves, but the fur at the bottom of the boots where your feet sit will always be cream. The fur should also be thick and fluffy. On fake boots, the fur will be synthetic, so it will be thinner and small pieces of fur are likely to come away if you rub it.
Real UGG boots will come up big (so you’ll need to get a size smaller than you normally do), but fakes will be too small. Genuine boots will never have labels pinned to them, so if your boots do, they're not the real thing.
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If you’re hoping to boost your film collection, watch out for counterfeit DVDs. These will usually have poor sound and picture quality and even though they’ll be cheap, they often won’t be worth the price.
If the DVD in question is marked Region 0 or Region Free, it’s likely to be a fake - the majority of genuine recently released DVDs are encoded for a specific region (Region 1 or Region 2).
What’s more, the disc itself is likely to be coloured, rather than silver, if it’s a fake, and there won’t be a title printed on it.
As for the cover, make sure there are no spelling mistakes and check the images are clear. The cover should also contain a security hologram.
Shop with care
Selling fake goods is illegal and many products are actually unsafe to use. If you purchase fake goods when you’re abroad, you may find your products are seized on the way home by the UK border Agency and you may end up paying a fine. So if you know the product you’re buying isn’t the real deal, don’t buy it.
If you’re shopping online, always carefully check the spelling of the website address or URL – if anything is misspelt, it’s likely to be an unofficial site. It's also a good idea to type the name of the website into a search engine to see if there are any reviews or warnings about it. Check to see whether the postal address is easy to find on the website – if it’s not, you’ll be better off doing your shopping elsewhere.
When you go to pay, always ensure the padlock symbol is shown on the screen when you fill in your payment details. The web address at the top of the page should also change to ‘https://’ as opposed to ‘http’ – the ‘s’ signifies it’s secure.
And finally, if your purchase is over £100, it’s a good idea to pay by credit card. That’s because you’ll be protected by Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act (1974), which will give you valuable consumer protection if there's a problem with your purchases. If your order is under £100, look to use a Visa debit card so you can make a claim under the Visa Chargeback scheme.