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Holiday alert: Canadians increasingly susceptible to counterfeit purchases

By Sara Bedal |

With holiday shopping revving up, Santa's not the only one who needs to "check it twice." According to a recent survey, 73 per cent of Canadians think online deals are simply too good to be true.

The culprit is the broad availability of counterfeit goods, with 68 per cent of respondents believing that deal-seekers may not get what they bargained for. The survey, which was commissioned by Microsoft Canada, also found that many Canadians are more likely to comparison shop to ensure they are getting the most for their dollar.

The search for the lowest price increases the likelihood of counterfeiters successfully attracting bargain-hunters with non-genuine products such as toys, clothing, video games and software, many of which are highly sophisticated and difficult for the average consumer to detect. "The anonymity afforded by the web allows counterfeiters to operate with little chance of being detected while the risks to consumers are extremely high," says Lorne Lipkus, founding member of the Canadian Anti-Counterfeiting Network.

Eight in ten respondents said that they cannot tell the difference between real and fake, so it's not surprising that the illegal billion-dollar industry continues to flourish worldwide.

However, there are steps consumers can take to make sure they are better informed about counterfeit goods:

  • Do your research – Take time to find out what you're buying and from whom. Listen to word of mouth, check references and get insight from experienced and trusted retailers.
  • Compare the price – Everyone loves a good deal, but quality products are sometimes worth the extra cost. The trick when bargain shopping is making sure the sale is reasonable and not alarmingly low, which could be a potential red flag.
  • Look for flaws – Counterfeiters might be good at producing replicas, but there are usually subtle differences in the packaging of the goods, sometime including spelling mistakes and other obvious errors. Pay close attention before you make the purchase.
  • Use available resources – Check the web for government and non-government resources that can help you determine the legitimacy of an item. For Microsoft products, for instance, visit or, if you encounter suspicious Microsoft software, you can call Microsoft's piracy hotline at 1-800-RU-LEGIT.

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