(WXYZ) — U.S. Customs and Border Protection is reminding consumers to be on the lookout for counterfeit and pirated goods, particularly when shopping online.
Every year, CBP says it seizes millions of counterfeit goods from countries around the world as part of its mission to protect U.S. businesses and consumers.
These include fake versions of popular products, such as smartphones and related accessories, electronics, apparel, shoes, cosmetics, and high-end luxury goods. Sold online and in stores, counterfeit goods hurt the U.S. economy, cost Americans their jobs, threaten consumer health and safety, and fund criminal activity.
“Counterfeiters are focused on making a profit; they are not focused on consumer safety,” said William A. Ferrara, Executive Assistant Commissioner of the CBP Office of Field Operations. “Buying counterfeit goods can expose you and your family to health and safety risks while the proceeds support criminal enterprises.”
There are several steps that consumers can take to protect themselves when shopping online: Purchase goods only from reputable retailers and be wary of third party vendors. Check seller reviews and verify there is a working phone number and address for the seller, in case you have questions about the legitimacy of a product.
Nationwide in Fiscal Year 2020, CBP seized 26,503 shipments containing goods that violated intellectual property rights. The total estimated value of the seized goods, had they been genuine, was nearly $1.3 billion.
In addition to consumer goods, CBP continues to seize counterfeit and unapproved medical supplies. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, CBP has seized more than 13.5 million counterfeit face masks and more than 177,000 unapproved COVID-19 test kits. The agency has also seized counterfeit hand sanitizing stations, unapproved thermometers, and unregistered sanitary wipes.