What To Do If You Unknowingly Bought A Counterfeit Item

I was at a friend’s house a while back and became obsessed with her Google Chromecast and went home that night and bought myself one on Amazon. Or so I thought… I plugged it in and set it up but noticed something was off. The welcome screen wasn’t anything like hers. It turns out, I had unknowingly bought a fake. It happens even to the best of us and I’m here to tell you your options if this ever happens to you.

I’ve outlined some tips for how to authenticate your own items but counterfeiters are getting smarter and more clever at creating very convincing fakes. So here’s what you can do if you’ve been tricked!

Talk To Visa

counterfeit styledemocracy
Instagram/@processcc4free

If you paid for your item using Visa, you can file a complaint with them through their fraud department. They’ll ask you to fill out some paperwork and start their own investigation. If they’ve concluded the item is fake, you might be eligible for a refund on your purchase.

If you didn’t pay by Visa but did pay by credit card, call the credit card company and let them know by filing a formal complaint through them. I had to submit fraud complaints through Visa and they’re always receptive. I can’t say the same about some of the other credit card companies. 

Contact The Anti-Fraud Centre

If you don’t have any luck by calling your credit card company, then you can try filing a complaint through the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC). The CAFC is the central agency that collects intelligence on anything that has to do with fraud. They’ll do all the work of contacting the right people and can also sometimes get you your money back for being tricked. Just be prepared to provide them with information like your card number, the date you purchased the item, the address or website, the amount you paid for the item, and a few pictures.

Report It To Amazon

amazon counterfeit crackdown
Photo via Pixabay

Most major online marketplaces have some sort of policy for reporting fakes. At the end of February, Amazon unveiled Project Zero to help combat the presence and sale of counterfeits on their website. A really great initiative by Amazon to better help people buy with more confidence.

Let The Brand Know

I would recommend this regardless of whether you get compensated or not. It’s one of the most effective ways to crack down on counterfeits and that’s letting the brand know when there are fake items floating around. In my previous article, I mentioned how the LAPD started an investigation into fake makeup and that was because the brands approached them about complaints they were getting from customers who claimed they were getting bumps and rashes from their makeup. This led the police to seizing an enormous amount of contaminated makeup containing bacteria and feces. Brands often have education on how to avoid fakes (Canada Goose has a really great tool verification tool) but also have an interest in stopping the sale of counterfeits of their brand. Letting them know it’s happening is the first step.

Alert Police

Manufacturing or selling counterfeits is a criminal offence just like trafficking cocaine. If you see it happening, it’s not a bad idea to let the authorities know. I’ve helped train police on how to authenticate in preparation for their investigations and for criminal seizures because they do take action on these cases. The more they know, the more they can do.

Featured Image: Instagram/@b_benzshops

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