Amazon, Walmart, and others sell fake products online - here's how to avoid getting duped
- A new report has found that five major online retailers - including Amazon, Walmart, and eBay - were selling fake products that can be harmful to your health.
- Of the 47 products investigators bought, which ranged from Nike Air Jordan shoes to Urban Decay makeup, 20 were counterfeit.
- Looking for a few red flags will help you protect yourself from purchasing a fake product.
Next time you're about to purchase an item from your favorite online retailer, you might want to do a double take.
A recent report from the Government Accountability Office revealed that products purchased from third-party sellers on five major e-commerce sites could be counterfeit - and harmful to your health.
Out of the 47 products - all Nike Air Jordan shoes, Yeti travel mugs, Urban Decay makeup, and UL-certified phone chargers - investigators bought from Amazon, Walmart, eBay, Sears Marketplace, and Newegg, 20 were counterfeit.
All of the shoes were authentic, and only one UL-certified phone charger was fake, but it was a whole different ballpark with the other two categories - six of nine Yeti travel mugs and all Urban Decay makeup were fake.
It's unknown which products came from which retailer, but it is known that one counterfeit item and one authentic item was purchased from each site.
Not only are consumers being duped, they're being exposed to potentially dangerous materials. The report claimed that counterfeit iPhone adapters can pose a risk of lethal electrocution, counterfeit travel mugs can include higher lead concentrations, and counterfeit cosmetics contain substances such as cyanide, mercury, and rat droppings.
Those aren't things you want in your hands or on your face.
What's doubly concerning is that it's hard to discern the difference between what's fake and what's real. The items, all shipped from the US, were advertised as new and name-brand and were sold by third-party sellers with average customer ratings above 90% - all factors that instill a higher sense of confidence and trust in the buyer.
It's also hard identify what's fake knowing that all five companies have strict protocols and a "zero tolerance" policy for counterfeit products that involves removing said goods from their marketplaces, which they confirmed to CBS News.
Yet, somehow the counterfeits persist. Counterfeit goods account for almost 10% of worldwide trade, according to the World Customs Organization.
"I'm not telling anyone to not purchase anything online anymore, that would be unreasonable, but certainly you can look for various things that would help guard you against getting something that's counterfeit," Kimberly Gianopoulos, director in international affairs and trade groups at GAO, told Circa News.
Keep reading for seven tips for spotting fake products online.