SHOPPERS heading out for last minute Christmas deals and those looking forward to the New Year sales are being warned to avoid fakes.
East Sussex County Council Trading Standards is raising awareness about counterfeit goods and the serious organised crimes connected to the trade in fake items.
Among the most common fakes are designer clothes, watches and perfume, as well as cosmetics, alcohol and CDs.
DVDs, video and audio tapes, computer software and games, vehicle parts and DIY tools are also popular with fraudsters.
To avoid buying fakes Trading Standards offered the following advice to shoppers:
Be suspicious about deals and bargains. If something seems too good to be true, it probably is.
Find out if you have any guarantees or after sales service.
Examine the quality of the goods.
Check labels and packaging for misspellings and poor logos.
Take extra care at street markets, car boot sales, pubs and computer fairs, or in other situations where it may be more difficult to get in touch with the trader after the purchase.
You should also guard against buying fakes on the internet.
Lead member on community services at the county council cllr Bob Tidy, said: “In these difficult economic times, there is often a greater temptation to buy fake goods; however few understand the consequences and serious implications behind counterfeiting.
“This time of year can be very expensive and many people are trying to find ways to minimise their spending.
“I would urge the public not to be tempted to buy fake goods, which can harm our community.
“It can fund serious crimes such as human trafficking and drug crime.”
Trading Standards said there were lots of reasons why you should not buy fakes, which included:
The goods may be dangerous - from cosmetics that can cause skin rashes to fake car parts that may cause accidents.
A lot of fake goods fund drug dealers and other organised crime - even terrorism.
You may end up paying higher taxes because people who deal in fakes don’t - consumers end up making up the difference.
You may be putting local people out of jobs because genuine manufacturers can’t compete with the criminals making and selling fakes.
If you buy fake goods and they don’t live up to your expectations, you won’t get any after sales service or guarantees.
Fake goods deprive the copyright owner of money that can be used to fund new development.
If you suspect somebody is selling fake goods, please call 0354 60 80 197 or email email@example.com.
For further information or advice contact Consumer Direct on 08456 040506 or visit www.consumerdirect.gov.uk.