Isle of Man Government
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Isle of Man Government Office of Fair Trading

Get Real this Christmas – Don’t Buy Fakes

As Christmas appears on the horizon the Office of Fair Trading is highlighting the need to think twice about buying goods which may be counterfeit. Unscrupulous traders selling counterfeit goods gear up for the festive season just as legitimate traders do and consumers can sometimes be tricked into buying fake goods without realising what the consequences might be.

Although you are more likely to come across counterfeit goods when you are shopping on the internet or in markets in the UK and abroad the Office has in the past found a range of counterfeit goods for sale on the Island, including perfume, sportswear, designer wear, footwear, children’s clothing, sunglasses, watches, toys, mobile phone accessories and computer games.

Counterfeit goods are often unsafe or of poor quality. These are some examples :-

  • fake batteries;
  • fake perfumes, which are unregulated and could be harmful to sensitive skin;
  • counterfeit children’s clothing that can easily go up in flames;
  • electrical hair styling products, containing fake fuses and plugs;
  • fake "designer" sunglasses that may not offer protection against UV rays;
  • counterfeit alcohol and cigarettes;
  • fake mobile phones and accessories.

Apart from the safety and quality aspects there are other reasons for not buying counterfeit goods :-

  • They are often made in poor countries where the workers are not paid fairly for the work they do. The workers in the factories making the real goods can lose their jobs because people are buying the counterfeit goods and not the real ones;
  • The profits from counterfeiting are often used to fund serious organised crime;
  • Counterfeiters do not pay their dues to the community. Where legitimate businesses contribute to the wellbeing of a nation by paying taxes, creating jobs and treating their employees fairly, counterfeiters do not.

There are other issues that consumers should consider such as :-

Identity theft and credit card fraud: Entering your debit or credit card details into a website that deals in fakes means that you are essentially giving your card details, your address and your name to criminals. To ensure your card details remain safe, make sure that you only buy goods online from authorised retailers.

Know your rights: If you buy online from businesses registered in the UK you are legally entitled to return any goods bought within seven days (even if you just change your mind). You are also entitled to return the goods if they are faulty. If you buy an item and realise it’s a fake, getting a refund can be difficult. Often fakes are sold through websites based outside the Isle of Man and the UK; these websites may consequently not be subject to the same legal requirements as sites based here and in the UK.

Shopping online: If you are going to shop online: Buying from companies registered in the UK can help keep you safe as you’ll have more legal rights. Try and buy from a brand’s official website or from an authorised seller of the product. ‘https’ on the web site address means the site is secure - the ‘s’ in https stands for secure. The padlock on the payment screen is also a mark of security. Just because a URL ends in doesn’t mean the business is registered in the UK. Search web addresses using Who Is – a database of who owns what domain names and where they are based or go to the UK’s register of domain names at

There are also some basic things which should be researched such as checking that if the business address provided actually exists and also that postcodes provided match with that address.

You should also consider carrying out checks with Companies House regarding companies claiming to be UK registered or Company Registry for those claiming to be registered in the Isle of Man.

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