If you’re a trader, how can you be really certain that your suppliers aren’t selling you fakes? Buying fakes can happen completely unintentionally. The fake may look very similar to the genuine thing after all – usually it does, as that’s the point of fakes. They may even have caught out your supplier. But this situation can have severe consequences for you and your business, not least because counterfeit products are generally of inferior quality (they’re the short-cut, cheat’s version of the well-crafted and brand-backed original). It’s not just your reputation that comes into question when fake products are discovered – and they generally are discovered. They may even be harmful to consumers from a health and safety point of view, so if you’re selling them – knowingly or without reasonably verifying their origins, you may be held partially responsible (by Trading Standards or even the courts), for the damage that they cause.

Common examples of goods that are often counterfeit include electrical products, cosmetics, alcohol or cigarettes, music and film products (for example the piracy of DVD’s).

Let’s break this down. First, let’s take a look at what is a fake? A fake or counterfeit product in general terms refers to an imitation of the real product.

What does the law say about fakes? Well, it’s pretty clear. It’s a criminal offence where someone makes, distributes, imports and sells fake products masquerading under a recognised brand name and clearly, for financial gain. If you do this and you’re caught out, it can lead to a fine and/or being imprisoned.

How do you avoid inadvertently buying and then selling fake products? We suggest you:

1. only buy from trusted suppliers - check reviews and references on your suppliers. Be more cautious about newcomers or foreign businesses from countries you’re not familiar with;

2. always carefully examine products on receipt of them, including the labels, packaging and where you can, their content;

3. regularly check the Trading Standards website for product recalls and alerts - Their page can be found here;

4. trust your instincts - if a deal seems too good to be true, take your time and do further checks before committing. There are very few legitimate deals these days that really are too good to be true;

5. report any suspicions that you may have to Action Fraud or Trading Standards.

The government guide on counterfeiting and piracy can be found here.

For a friendly chat or some further guidance about counterfeit goods and fraudulent suppliers, you can always get in touch with us.