Beware of counterfeit goods

Information about counterfeit goods and how to avoid buying them.

If it seems too good to be true - it probably is

That's the advice from Border Force and a warning to shoppers to be on their guard, or they may get more than they bargained for when buying cheap goods.

Counterfeit goods undercut honest traders and leave shoppers with goods that are, at best, inferior to genuine products and at worst, dangerous. Find out more about the costs of the trade in counterfeit goods to the UK.  

Could you find the fake?

Try our dodgy or deluxe quiz to find out if you can spot the counterfeit product.

Image showing breakdown of seized counterfeit goods

See the top 12 types of counterfeit goods seized by Border Force.

Unsafe products

Counterfeit items do not go through the rigorous heath and safety testing required by law. Component parts used in the manufacture of counterfeit goods could cause a variety of health or safety problems:

  • electrical products could kill or cause a fire
  • fake medical or health products could be poisonous
  • small parts of fake toys could dislodge and choke a child

Find out more about counterfeit goods and how to spot them.

Against the law

It is against the law to import counterfeit goods. Proceeds from the sales of cheap counterfeit goods can fuel criminal activities  such as tax evasion, people trafficking and smuggling.

The cost of counterfeit goods on trademark owners, consumers and the UK economy is huge and the Gowers Review of Intellectual Property estimated that the criminal gain from counterfeiting in the UK is worth £1.3 billion annually.

Thousands of seized items 

Fake UGG Boots, GHD hair straighteners, smart phones, tablet computers, designer clothes, Hello Kitty and Disney products were among the tens of thousands of counterfeit items seized by Border Force in the lead up to Christmas 2012.

Border Force's role

Counterfeit goods are rarely manufactured in the UK. The vast majority of fakes arrive in large shipments from outside the EU or from personal imports via the internet.

Border Force officers ensure imitation designer and branded goods are detected at the UK border. They also work at ports and postal depots to prevent illegal goods circumventing UK customs controls.

Border Force seized and detained millions of counterfeit goods last year.

We work in close partnership with HM Revenue & Customs, the Intellectual Property Office, manufacturers and local Trading Standards to deal with the continuing problem of imported counterfeit goods.

Share |