Washington, DC – Holiday shopping is stressful enough as it is. But as the 2020 winter holiday season gets underway, taking measures to remain safe and healthy during a pandemic — while making certain that you’re not buying fraudulent or counterfeit gifts — certainly adds to the stress that holiday shopping can bring. In an effort to protect consumers this holiday season (and make the gift-shopping process a little easier amid COVID-19), we’re offering our top tips on how you can make sure your presents don’t come with an unfortunate bonus of illegitimacy.
According to Copyright Alliance CEO Keith Kupferschmid, “Being careful about the legitimacy of what you buy, and where you make your purchases, is something to always be mindful of. However, around the holidays (and especially this year, when many more people will be shopping online to remain socially distant), knowing the warning signs of pirated goods that masquerade as legitimate products is incredibly important. So, it’s become a holiday season tradition for us to team up with our members to educate consumers on ways to identify and avoid buying pirated and counterfeit products as gifts.”
Further, by obtaining content legally over the holidays, consumers avoid malware that can result in criminals gaining access to consumer financial information and identity theft. As outlined by the Digital Citizens Alliance Digital Bait Report, sites that steal content are also likely to contain harmful malware and can be very dangerous.
Adds Kupferschmid, “As more consumers purchase holiday gifts online each year, sites selling illegitimate merchandise have become savvy at portraying themselves as legitimate online retailers selling genuine products. So, it’s important that we help the ‘buyer beware’ during this year’s gift-giving season, as well as provide consumer safety tips for the long term.”
Some tips to follow to ensure that consumers purchase only legitimate products:
- If a product price seems too good to be true, it probably is. Be careful about extreme bargains on software, movies, music, etc.
- Only purchase products from secure online sites to protect your credit card information and identity.
- When reviewing product packaging, simple things like spelling errors, blurry text and images or poor print quality can help you identify illegal (or questionable) products.
- Purchase products from reputable stores (brick-and-mortar or online), or directly from the copyright owner’s website.
- When downloading apps, it’s safest to do so from vetted sources (such as iTunes or Google). But if you download an app through a third-party source, there’s a good chance it may be infected with malware — particularly video streaming apps.
- When in doubt about whether a product is legitimate, don’t shop, click or give out your information. Instead, do further research before making your purchase.
The Copyright Alliance recommends the following links to help consumers shop safely and be safe during this holiday season:
Money for Nothing (Digital Citizens Alliance)
(Avoiding) Fakes and Online Scams (Digital Citizens Alliance)
Be Cyber Safe and Counterfeit Free (Digital Citizens Alliance)
Get it Right from a Genuine Site (Creative Content UK Partnership)
Avoiding Counterfeit Music Sites and CDs (RIAA)
Global Brand Council Works to Combat Counterfeit Goods (GIPC)
Find Legitimate Sources for Movies, TV and More (WheretoWatch.com)
Shopping Online? Here’s How to Keep Your Personal Information Safe (NBC News)
Shop Online? Here’s How to Spot Counterfeit Electronics, Cosmetics, Clothes and More (NBC News)
How to Avoid Online Scams (Consumer Reports)
15 Tips for Safe Holiday Online Shopping (LifeLock)
Fraud Resource Center: How to Avoid Holiday Scams (AARP)
9 Holiday Shopping Scams to Watch Out for This Season (U.S. News)
14 Tips for Safe Online Shopping (PC Magazine)
7 Tips for Safer Online Shopping (Norton)
FTC’s Tips for Happy Holiday Shopping (FTC)
Tips for Safer Shopping – In Person or Online (Microsoft)
How to Tell: Learn How to Tell if Your MS Software and Hardware Are Genuine (Microsoft)
Top 5 Holiday Scams To Watch Out For This Year (Huff Post)
Eleven Ways Holiday Shopping Will Be Different This Year Due to Coronavirus (Huff Post)
How to Avoid Buying Counterfeit Products Online (Consumer Reports)
5 Christmas Scams to Avoid This Year (Military.com)
For those who are looking to find legitimate music as gifts — while also supporting U.S. musicians who can’t currently perform live due to the COVID-19 outbreak — check out the newly published blog by Copyright Alliance legal fellow Samantha Levin for information on how you can support this community.
And once your shopping is done and all of the gifts purchased, for those who are looking to keep their homes and holiday trees safe, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) shares tips on how to keep your holiday tree safe.
ABOUT THE COPYRIGHT ALLIANCE
The Copyright Alliance is a non-profit, non-partisan public interest and educational organization representing the copyright interests of over 1.8 million individual creators and over 13,000 organizations in the United States, across the spectrum of copyright disciplines. The Copyright Alliance is dedicated to advocating policies that promote and preserve the value of copyright, and to protecting the rights of creators and innovators. For more information, please visit www.copyrightalliance.org.