The Risks Associated With Buying Fake Goods

There are so many fake products out there and they are tempting to buy because of the reduced price tag, but do you know the risks associated with buying fake goods?

But just how unsafe are these items and what should we do if we accidentally buy a fake product?

You may have seen Fake Britain on BBC One earlier this week, they were running a report into fake products, including fake iPhones.

Scammers are flooding the market with fake iPhones which are being sold on eBay at the moment to unsuspecting buyers looking for a bargain. What these scammers don’t tell you is that the soldering inside the iPhone is too close together which could be dangerous.

This isn’t the only problem, there are thousands of people falling victim to these fake products every day. Some of the fakes are so beleivable, the problem isn’t noticed until something goes seriously wrong!

Trading standards teams are working hard to clamp down on counterfeit goods and stop online scams which pose a safety risk, or do not comply with health and safety legislation. Their busiest time is in the festive period when everyone is gift shopping. Popular toys, fashion and electrical items are the most likely to be copied by scammers who are looking to make themselves a quick buck.

I have heard a few people say they don’t mind buying fake products, as long as they’re ‘good’ fakes – however, the problem with that is, no matter how ‘good’ a fake product is, you don’t know what exactly you’re getting when you buy one.

There are people being electrocuted and seriously burnt by fake mobile phone chargers. A few year ago a lady was electrocuted and killed when she answered a call on her mobile phone which was plugged into a fake charger. There are a number of cases of fires being caused by fake electrical items overheating whilst plugged in.

Fake straighteners are also flooding the market right now, especially GHDs. The RRP for these hair straighteners is over £100 but you can pay £30 for a fake version. However, there are a number of serious safety problems with these, no matter how ‘good’ of a fake they appear to be on the outside.

There is no limit to how hot the plates can get for example, which can cause serious burns or the plastic to melt, and not to mention the damage it will do to your hair.

When buying a fake electrical item, you are at risk of it over heating, explosion, fire and even death.

How can you avoid become a victim of a counterfeit scam?

  • If you buying online, check the website out before purchasing, especially if you haven’t heard of the store before. Use a website such as Scam Adviser, they can give you information on a websites trust rating, how long the website has been running, the location of the website etc.
  • Googling the name of the company is a good way to see if they have many complaints.
  • Be very wary about buying electrical items from traders outside the UK.
  • Check out the product carefully when it arrives. Does the packing and labelling look correct and is it of the quality you would expect? Are the instructions in English, and is the item fitted with a UK 3 pin plug? Is the voltage of the product 230V, 50 Hz (UK domestic voltage)? Is the item CE marked?
  • If you are unsure, do not use the item.
  • Contact Trading Standards for advice if you have any concerns. To report a company or fake product to Trading Standards, you need to call the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 08454 04 05 06
  • If the seller is based in the EU, you have 14 days within which you can return the item for any reason and get your money back.
  • If an item is faulty or misdescribed then you have the right to your money back (including all postage costs), although this may be difficult if the trader is based outside the EU.
  • If fraud has been committed, report the problem to Action Fraud via their online reporting tool.
  • If you’ve found a counterfeit item on eBay, it’s best to report it to the seller first. If it’s an item they’ve bought themselves, they might not be aware it’s a fake. If you’ve a valid claim that the seller won’t resolve, consider raising a dispute through the eBay Buyer Protection process.  For more information, see our guide on how to complain if something you bought on eBay is faulty. You can also report counterfeit items on the item’s listing, by scrolling to the bottom and clicking on the ‘report item’ link.


If you enter your debit/credit card details into a website that deals in fake goods, you could essentially be giving your card details to a criminal, so please be careful.

If you do buy an item that turns out to be a fake, getting a refund can be difficult, but not impossible.

When you buy goods or services on your credit or debit card you have extra protection if things go wrong compared with paying by cheque or cash.

You can make a claim against your card provider under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act, if the item you bought cost more than £100 and less than £30,000.

If you bought something costing less than £100, or used your debit card, you can ask your card provider to reverse a transaction using chargeback.

Also see a guide to avoiding Facebook scams here.


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