ONLINE shoppers have been warned to keep an eye out for fake products ahead of Black Friday.
Instagram has pulled hundreds of suspected counterfeit products from the site as part of a joint crackdown with Trading Standards.
Phone accessories, potentially dangerous chargers, knock off clothes, jewellery, tobacco, car parts and copyrighted photographs were among the banned haul.
It comes as a poll found more than a quarter of UK shoppers are considering or intending to buy fake products this year.
Electrical devices such as smartphones, tablets or laptops and accessories such as chargers and earphones are among those most likely to be bought by consumers seeking fake items this year, the survey suggests.
But Trading Standards warned they could be poor quality and “incredibly dangerous”.
“Removing counterfeit goods from Instagram means families will be safer this Christmas,” said Mike Andrews, national co-ordinator at the National Trading Standards eCrime team.
“Buying fakes can seem like a harmless way to get what you want for less, but counterfeiting is not a victimless crime.
“Aside from being poor quality, fake electrical goods can be a fire hazard, while copycat toys can be deadly to children as criminals don’t care about safety standards.”
Previous research by the charity Electrical Safety First found that 98 per cent of fake Apple chargers failed safety tests.
Just this week an unofficial charger sold on Amazon was recalled after it caused a fire.
How to avoid falling for counterfeit products
Experts advise you to vet the seller – find out whether they are official and have a return policy.
Look around for reviews on them – not recommendations from influencers.
Always beware of retailers asking for payment to be made via bank transfer.
Well known credit card providers like Visa or Mastercard, and services like PayPal offer protection to buyers if the goods don’t arrive or are proven to be counterfeit.
Look out for tell-tale signs like spelling mistakes in the description – and even on the product itself.
See if the item has any EU and UK safety markings.
And think twice if the price is a lot cheaper than everywhere else, as it’s probably too good to be true.
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