It's not always that obvious. Even a phony web site can look legit.
Here are the top 5 most complained about counterfeits being sold on the web, according to our partners at SiteJabber.com:
- UGGs: The trendy boots don't come cheap, so they are a prime target for knockoffs.
- Coach: It's easy to find real Coach wallets and handbags. Just be prepared to pay. Want them cheap? Be prepared to get fakes.
- Tiffany's: Now there's a name that conjures class, and cost. Looking for a great deal on Tiffany jewelry? Maybe a closeout only available on a particular web site? Great, if you want to watch the silver come off or some other calamity that wouldn't occur if it really was from Tiffany.
- Christian Louboutins: If you're going to get a pair of one of these high-end shoes and boots worshiped on Sex and the City, be prepared to spend $800-$2,500. But wait, they're on sale for $150-$200. Wow! What a deal! You get to spend a couple of hundred dollars to get a shabby knockoff. Awesome. (That's the real Christian Louboutin pictured with his shoes below.)
- Sports jerseys: Officially licensed athletic apparel comes at a premium, because, it is, well, authentically licensed. That makes this an easy target market for fakes. How about a site that in its FAQ actually is sort of honest by coming up with a word for their products that sounds better than counterfeit: "Replithentic."
Many of these sites, whether they have U.S. phone numbers or not, are really based in China. So, make a mistake and do business with one and you can be pretty well assured of a lousy outcome.
To see what other consumers think about a site -- before you buy -- check it on SiteJabber.com. You can use the convenient search bar you'll find on the main Consumer Ally page.
SiteJabber.com suggests consumers consider these steps to avoid counterfeits:
- Apply the simple standard of "is this deal too good to be true?"
- Be leery of sites you've never heard of
- If you go forward, try to use a credit card with good anti-fraud protection and DO NOT use a debit card or wire cash