Consumer spending in the run up to Christmas is expected to reach £22 billion this year but people have been warned to watch out for scammers selling fake goods.
Intellectual property crime and counterfeiting in the UK is estimated to total at least £90 million every year and as shoppers go in hunt of festive bargains, criminals look to take advantage.
Customs officers intercepted a batch of fake and substandard toys in November and it is thought more could be set to flood the UK market.
As a result, customers are being warned to look out for fake goods that could potentially be dangerous or even life-threatening.
What to watch out for
Fake gifts create a false economy and some of the consequences could potentially ruin Christmas for those involved.
Counterfeit make-up can contain lead, copper, mercury, arsenic or cadmium which can cause rashes, swelling and poisoning.
Fake alcohol is also a danger as it can contain methanol, antifreeze or other fuel which can cause nausea, stomach pains, kidney and liver problems, coma and even death.
Children’s toys and clothes can be particularly dangerous as there can be loose parts, long cords and materials that are either toxic or not fire retardant.
Electrical goods can also be developed with missing components which can lead to electric shocks, fires and explosions. Half of all house fires are started by faulty electrical goods so reducing the risk should be a priority for families.
Spotting fake goods
In order to lower costs, many corner-cutting approaches can be taken and this often results in products that are poor quality and with a very short lifespan.
While trading standards officials look to ensure that as many counterfeit goods as possible do not end up on the market, some will always slip through the net.
Therefore it’s vital to keep a close eye on items when making Christmas purchases to ensure that this festive season isn’t a disaster. Many fakes are quite easy to spot but any customers who are unsure should exercise caution when deciding whether to make a purchase.
Any retailers found to be selling fake goods should be reported so that other people do not fall victim to their crimes as well.
Essentially, if a deal sounds too good to be true then it probably is; especially when it comes to items such as alcohol, toys and electricals.