One of the commenters on my recent blog about cargo theft suggested that I address the global concern of counterfeit products. Everyone knows that making fake products and then selling them to consumers is illegal. However, I wonder how many people realize just how big the problem is if they willingly or unwillingly purchase goods and how much incentive they give to counterfeiters worldwide. Who and what is the money supporting when purchasing these illegal products? The reality is, if consumers buy it – it will never go away. It is important to point out that there are “two types of counterfeit product purchases by consumers”, according to Dr. Haider Ali’s article titled, Why People Buy Counterfeit Brands. Deceptive counterfeiting takes place where the consumer does not know that they have purchased a counterfeit product. It is surprising how authentic some counterfeit products look. In contrast, “non-deceptive purchases of counterfeit products take place where the consumer willingly buys the counterfeit products.” First and foremost, with respect to ‘deceptive’ counterfeiting, consumers should do some due diligence and check the authentic websites to determine who in fact is an authorized reseller. It can be difficult to tell the difference and it is surprising how even some stores themselves look authentic.
On the other hand, ‘non-deceptive purchases’ of counterfeit is where the suppliers may need to “consider why the demand exists”. This is where items are sold in the backs of cars, alleyways, flea markets and basically anywhere counterfeit is bought and sold – the black market. Although there has been a significant amount of research into why and who would buy counterfeit brands. There are surprisingly many reasons on the attractiveness of buying counterfeit.
According to a 2014 report released by the US Department of Homeland Security, “US Customs seized more than 1.2 billion US dollars worth…where more than 60 percent of the goods were from China”. This includes not only clothing, shoes and luxury items but also auto parts and medical supplies.
Luxury retailers do invest a lot of time to crack down counterfeiters. For example, CTV news released a story of a 45-year-old Chinese woman that was being sued for counterfeiting by eight luxury brands.
- Legal troubles began in 2008 when Chanel sued her for $6.9 million in damages for selling counterfeits online. She still hasn’t paid the damages, according to Chanel spokeswoman Kathrin Schurrer.
- In 2009, a Florida judge ruled against Xu Ting and shut down seven websites she was accused of helping run that sold fake Louis Vuitton, Marc Jacobs, and Celine. She did not show up in court.
- In 2010, Gucci, Balenciaga, Bottega Veneta and Yves Saint Laurent — all brands belonging to France’s Kering group — filed a lawsuit in New York federal court against Xu Ting, her future husband, younger brother, and mother along with six others who the companies said sold more than $2 million worth of fake handbags and wallets online to U.S. customers.
Mark Cohen, former intellectual property attache at the U.S. embassy in Beijing explains, “At the end of the day, there may be an economic calculation about how much money it’s worth to pursue these people” for any business. These counterfeiters do not and will not stop if consumers purchase. We as consumers need to also understand who we are supporting when purchasing counterfeit. Designers brands and businesses have worked very hard to give consumers an opportunity to purchase beautiful and creative pieces with a level of quality that is second to none.
As I prepare my packing list for an upcoming vacation (one that I’ve actually been counting the days down until it arrives), I realize that the first few items I wrote down were my phone, tablet and other electronic devices. That sparked a rollercoaster of questions in my head. What would I do without my phone and other devices? How would I keep up with current events? How would I maintain contact with family and friends (and maybe work)? What did people do before they had electronic devices? Then a more interesting question popped into my head; how safe are my devices both at home and abroad?
There are two categories of safety concerns involving electronic devices. The first category is the loss or theft of the device and the second category is cyber security. If your device goes missing or is hacked, all the valuable information on it could fall into the hands of the wrong person. Both of these categories can result in your identity being stolen and/or monetary losses, plus there is an added inconvenience of replacing your device and dealing with the issues that were caused by the loss.
I decided to do some research on ways to prevent issues from occurring in either category, and pass on the tips I have learned.
Category #1 – For the loss or theft of your device:
- Treat electronic devices like cash
- Put secure passcodes on any device that will allow it
- Carry the device in something less conspicuous
- Leave electronic devices unattended, even just for a moment – do not assume they will be safe in your hotel room or in a hotel safe
- Leave them in a car
- Use your device too much in public
- Keep passwords on the devices
Category #2 – Cyber security:
- Remove personal or important information from your electronic devices that you will not require when traveling
- Turn off devices or put them in ‘sleep’ or ‘airplane’ mode when they are not being used
- Put passcodes on any device that will allow it
- Change any and all passwords you may have used abroad
- Use public Internet connections for personal or sensitive communication
- Leave electronic devices unattended, even just for a moment
- Lend your devices to anyone you do not know very well
- Send sensitive messages or information via email or text
Now I can finish writing the rest of my packing list and hopefully the next time you go on a trip (even if it’s just a day trip), you can feel comfortable bringing your electronic devices. Don’t forget to pack your swimsuit; you never know when you might need it.