Protecting yourself from Amazon counterfeits

With billions in sales, you don't have to look far to find Amazon shoppers.

The online marketplace that allows other sellers besides Amazon to market products is hugely popular with millions of shoppers. With all that online shopping, some say it's not a surprise that counterfeits are a problem.

"It's not a surprise because I bought something on accident thinking it was real and I guess they scammed me out of money," explained shopper Luis Rayo.

A recent survey by which specializes in brand protection found 23 percent of consumers have unwillingly bought counterfeit items online.

To understand how counterfeits make there way through Amazon you have to understand the three ways they fulfill orders.

Third Party Sellers: Amazon has millions of items sold and shipped directly from the seller, never touched by Amazon. This is how most counterfeit items get sold.

Fulfilled By Amazon: These are items sellers ship to an Amazon fulfillment center which are shipped by Amazon but not necessarily verified.

Sold By Amazon: Experts say these items are the most legitimate for authenticity. These are items sold and shipped directly by Amazon.

Amazon issued this statement regarding counterfeits:

Amazon has zero tolerance for counterfeit. Amazon's customers trust that when they make a purchase through Amazon's website-either directly from Amazon or from one of its millions of third-party sellers-they will receive authentic products manufactured by the true manufacturer of those products. To preserve that trust, Amazon is investing heavily in protecting the integrity of the Amazon marketplace for consumers, sellers, and manufacturers. Amazon is also working closely with rights owners to strengthen protections for their brands on Amazon. We remove suspected counterfeit items as soon as we become aware of them, and we suspend or block bad actors suspected of engaging in illegal behavior or infringing others' intellectual property rights. We have taken independent legal action against bad actors, and will continue to do so. And we work with law enforcement who present us with valid legal process.

As part of our investment in brand protection, we are building powerful tools tailored to the needs of rights owners. In order to detect bad actors and potentially counterfeit products, we employ dedicated teams of software engineers, research scientists, program managers, and investigators to operate and continually refine our anti-counterfeiting program. When a business registers to sell products through Amazon's Marketplace, Amazon's automated systems scan information for signals that the business might be a bad actor, and Amazon blocks those bad actors during registration before they can offer any products for sale. On an ongoing basis, Amazon's systems also automatically and continuously scan numerous variables related to sellers, products, and offers to detect activity that indicates products offered might be counterfeit. Amazon is also investing in innovative machine learning to improve our automated systems in order to anticipate and stay ahead of bad actors. We take this fight very seriously and we look forward to partnering with even more stakeholders to eliminate counterfeits from our marketplace.

To avoid buying counterfeits, experts say reading seller reviews can help as well as knowing exactly who you are buying from before checking out. That can be done with a simple glance at the item and the listed seller. And, if shoppers are unsure of whether their seller is selling authentic items go to the brands website and search for 'where to buy' or licensed sellers. This will ensure you are avoiding counterfeits and avoiding the hassle of buying and returning fake items.
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