Thousands of Canadians unknowingly purchase counterfeit products every single year, putting them at risk of potentially serious injuries, illnesses or even death. March is International Fraud Prevention Month and CSA Group, a leader in public safety, testing and certification, wants to offer Canadians tips and tools to spot counterfeit goods and help protect themselves from becoming fraud victims.
The risks are growing rapidly. With the latest technology at their fingertips, counterfeiters are finding more sophisticated ways to produce fraudulent products that are hard to separate from the real thing, potentially placing the public at serious risk. According to the RCMP, the number of occurrences involving harmful counterfeit products has increased from 11.5 per cent of all counterfeits investigated in 2005 to 30.4 per cent in 2012.1 This includes toys, pharmaceuticals, perfumes, integrated circuits, headphones, batteries and more.
“All electrical and gas goods must be tested and marked as certified in order to be sold legally in Canada. Counterfeiters shipping to and within Canada are aware of this and look to fool consumers by not only making brand names but also certification marks,” says Terry Hunter, Manager of Anti-Counterfeiting at CSA Group. “Since fakes are not certified by an accredited organization, they may be missing safety features or using toxic materials, putting consumers at risk of injury or even death. It’s important for consumers to be vigilant and take the necessary steps to spot counterfeit goods.”
CSA Group offers the following tips to keep you safe from fakes:
- Buyer beware: Best deal ever? Think again. If the price seems too good to be true, it likely is. Counterfeiters often make a profit by using substandard materials and cutting corners, increasing the risk to the customer. Know the fair market value of products and be suspicious of the product if it’s significantly underpriced.
- Look for the mark: Avoid products, especially electrical goods, if they don’t have a label from a recognized certification organization such as CSA Group. If there is a mark, look closely to ensure it matches the design and colour of the recognized certification organization. To confirm if a product is CSA Group certified, compare the identification label against the Certified Product Listing.
- Recognize real: Brand-name companies want consumers to know whose product they’re buying. When a product doesn’t include a brand identifier or trademark, it may be counterfeit. Look for missing return addresses, company contact information, warranties or instructions.
- Stick to solid: Check the “look and feel” of goods. Fake products are often too light and flimsy. Plus, counterfeit packaging is commonly poorly designed or includes partial illustrations, misspellings or unclear printing on products and labels.
- Know the retailer: When in doubt, buy products from reputable, well-known stores or established online retailers that offer clear return policies. If purchasing online, especially electrical products, ensure the product is certified for use in your country.
CSA Group is a founding member of the Canadian Anti-Counterfeiting Network (CACN) and works in cooperation with other stakeholders to bring the issue of the hazards posed by counterfeits to the attention of government, the legal community, law enforcement and the Canadian public in order to raise awareness and enact positive changes. CSA Group is also a member of the International Anti-Counterfeiting Coalition, an association of certification organizations that is partnered with INTERPOL called CIAC – the Certification Industry Against Counterfeiting.
1Royal Canadian Mounted Police, “2012 Intellectual Property (IP) Crime Statistics,” 2012, http://www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/fep-pelf/ipr-dpi/report-rapport-2012-eng.htm
About CSA Group
CSA Group is an independent, not-for-profit member-based association dedicated to advancing safety, sustainability and social good. We are an internationally-accredited standards development and testing & certification organization. We also provide consumer product evaluation and education & training services. Our broad range of knowledge and expertise includes: industrial equipment, plumbing & construction, electro-medical & healthcare, appliances & gas, alternative energy, lighting and sustainability. The CSA mark appears on billions of products around the world.
Manager, Corporate Affairs