By Kevin McAleenan, Deputy Commissioner at U.S. Customs and Border Protection
Each year, CBP officers and import specialists get to preview the latest holiday merchandise in June when CBP processes the first containers of decorations and toys for all ages at the nation’s seaports and airports.
Within the trillions of dollars of shipments destined for retail shelves around the nation, CBP officers and import specialists are on the hunt for products that are unsafe or fake. Last year, CBP recorded more than 28,000 seizures of products that violated intellectual property rights, worth an estimated $1.3 trillion in manufacturer’s suggested retail price if the products had been genuine.
Some may view counterfeiting as a victimless crime, but it is destructive to our economy, and in some cases is hazardous to consumers. Counterfeits are often made of inferior materials, manufactured under uncontrolled and unsanitary conditions, and labeled with false information. As a result, they can threaten the health and safety of the people who buy them, or receive them as a gift.
Some concerning examples of counterfeit products we’ve seized include medication, makeup, power strip outlets, laundry detergent and toys.
This holiday season, you can protect you, your loved ones and the economy by avoiding counterfeits and purchasing the genuine product. Below are five tips that can help.
- Know what the genuine article looks like. The manufacturer’s website is a good source of information. Check the quality of the workmanship, the material the product is made from and how the item is constructed.
- Review labels and packaging. Look for missing product information, broken safety seals, misspellings, and strange packaging. Any of these could indicate a fake.
- Check the price. If the price seems too good to be true, it probably is.
- Buy from reputable retailers. Beware of internet sellers—products offered online are not always what they seem. Search online for reviews on the seller or website. Research the retailer’s Better Business Bureau rating and status.
- Know commonly counterfeited items. Some of the most popular counterfeit products are pharmaceuticals, sports jerseys, personal care products, shoes, toys, headphones, luxury goods, and electronics.
I encourage you to share these tips with your friends and family so they too can make informed decisions about the products they buy this holiday season.
For more information about CBP’s efforts to protect intellectual property rights and other trade enforcement priorities, visit us at CBP.gov/trade.