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December, 12th, 2019
The holiday shopping season is in full effect and more people than ever are making purchases online rather than in stores. Because of this, consumers need to be more vigilant when buying products online to ensure what they believe they are buying is actually what they are going to receive. Therefore, below are some best practices consumers and brand owners should consider to have a smooth shopping experience this holiday season.
First, make sure the website and its domain you are purchasing an item from is actually the proper website. On Black Friday, Kylie Cosmetics discovered that a website was cloning the real Kylie Cosmetics website with the domain kyliecosmetics.shop. This website is a counterfeit and was set up to appear to be the real Kylie Cosmetics website complete with a shopping cart that let consumers make “purchases.” However, all the consumer would receive is a credit card charge and no lip kits. Kylie Jenner even tweeted on Black Friday about the fake website to inform consumers about this scam and to be cautious. Brands such as Vineyard Vines have also been victims to these types of scams and have been successful in taking action against these websites in Federal Court. During the holiday season, these scammers know consumers may not be thinking twice before clicking on an advertisement for a website as they are trying to get the best deal in a short time frame. Therefore, it is a best practice to always make sure the URL address you are entering or going to is for a legitimate website. If you are ever concerned you are not on a legitimate website, check the brand’s social media accounts and use the link to the website from there.
Second, when buying well-known apparel brands on Amazon, Poshmark, Ebay and other online marketplaces it is important to purchase with caution. For example, designers such as Chanel and Louis Vuitton do not directly sell their luxury goods on Amazon, Poshmark, or other online marketplaces. Most likely any such product listings for these goods are for counterfeit products. If you are interested in purchasing such luxury brands, purchase the products from an authorized retailer or the brand directly. These brands are not going to be selling their luxury products on Amazon or Poshmark at steep discounts and no third party seller is going be able to profitably sell legitimate designer goods at steep discounts. If you do purchase luxury goods from Amazon, Poshmark, or another online marketplace, all luxury goods usually come with either an authenticity card or a serial number stamped somewhere inside to certify the product is authentic. You can verify that serial number with the brand themselves to ensure you actually purchased a legitimate product.
Third, see what images the third party seller is using in the product listing. This problem is most often seen on Amazon, Poshmark, or Ebay product listings. If the listing is using images of the product that are taken directly from the manufacturer’s website, the consumer is not actually seeing the product that is being listed. If there appears to be a deal you are interested in, but the images used in the listing are ones copied from the manufacturer’s website, contact the seller directly and ask them to send you images of the actual product. If the third party seller refuses to do so or does not respond, err on the side of caution and do not purchase the product because it is possible they do not actually have the product or are not selling the same product the product listing is for.
Fourth, be cautious of any social media advertisements for deals too good to be true. These posts will often require a consumer to click on a link that takes them to a website or requires the consumer to enter personal information or download something. Additionally, these links may contain malware or viruses. If you come across these types of posts, inform the social media platform as they are not only harming consumers, but the brands they are impersonating.
As always, if the price and deal seem too good to be true, it probably is. While not all deals are scams, it is important to be cautious when ordering online especially during the holiday season.
WHIPgroup is leading counsel for U.S. and international technology companies. We specialize in patent and trademark law.
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