Holiday Shoppers Better Beware of Counterfeit Goods

counterfeitConsumers squeezed by the rotten economy are shopping online in ever-greater numbers to save money on their holiday purchases. But increasingly, buyers who purchase items on eBay and other sites are inadvertently paying for counterfeit items.

Consumer Ally partner SiteJabber, a site dedicated to helping consumers find legitimate sites and protecting them from fraudulent ones, recently published an eye-opening graphic detailing the size and sources of the global counterfeit economy.

"We decided to package the data into a graphic to raise awareness amongst consumers of the magnitude, scope and nature of counterfeit goods," SiteJabber co-founder Jeremy Gin told Consumer Ally."We believe this is important because we see so many consumers who are looking for deals online hurt when they end up receiving counterfeit and low-quality products," Gin added. "Unfortunately, this is particularly evident this holiday season as more consumers look for ways to save in this difficult economy."

The graphic, which Site Jabber created from data compiled by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), depicts the counterfeit-exporting activity of more than 130 nations. The OECD statistic were based on the numbers of counterfeit goods seized from various countries, which were then crunched into a complex algorithm.

The resulting numbers for each country, known as the GTRIC-e, determine each nation's propensity to export counterfeit and pirated goods. The higher the number, the more likely that nation is a source of illegal goods.

For example, Hong Kong's GTRIC-e, at 2.85, places it in the "Through the Roof" category of the very worst offenders. Conversely, Norway's 0.007 ranks it among a much larger group of nations with a "Very Low" likelihood to deal in counterfeit goods.

According to the OECD estimates, the global counterfeit market started taking off in 2002, climbing from just over $100 million to a more than $250 billion annual market by 2007. The illicit trade in pirated goods also grew from an estimated 1.85% of total global trade to 1.95% in 2007 -- a period when the value of international trade more than doubled.

The "Through the Roof" category includes just a handful of nations including Afghanistan, Laos and the United Arab Emirates. China falls into the "Very High" category along with Pakistan, Vietnam, Turkey and others. Nations with a "High" GTRIC-e include Kenya, Lithuania and Taiwan, while "Moderate" nations include India, Jordan and Jamaica. The United States falls into the "Low" category, along with the UK, Iraq, Poland and Brazil. "Very Low" nations include Japan, Finland, Mexico and Libya.

"We hope this graphic will remind consumers to use caution when deal-hunting online and always research unfamiliar websites and online businesses before transacting with them," said Gin.

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