Gift Return Scam Could Ruin Your Holidays

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While buying holiday gifts online is certainly convenient, there are some pitfalls. One we have pointed out before is the possibility of unknowingly purchasing a counterfeit item, which is typically inferior to the real thing and may even be dangerous.

Another scam that can happen after the gift giving is finished is an exchange that damages both the seller and a future buyer.

According to The Counterfeit Report, this is how it works:

The scam is simple; [a crook] will purchase [both] an authentic item, and [at the same time] purchase a counterfeit at a fraction of the authentic items cost. Switch the products, and return the counterfeit to the retailer or e-commerce website for a refund – after all, you have a receipt. The surge of holiday gift returns distracts retailers and the deceptive counterfeit will likely be resold to an unsuspecting consumer.

If you are that “unsuspecting consumer,” you’ve just been scammed.

The Counterfeit Report offers consumers this advice:

  • Avoid all online purchases from China, and unauthorized sellers of trademarked items on eBay, Amazon Fulfillment and Amazon Marketplace. Many manufacturers don’t authorize sales on these websites.
  • Buy online directly from the manufacturer, or authorized retailers with clear return policies.
  • Always buy with a credit card, never cash, PayPal withdrawals or wire transfers.
  • When in doubt about a product, seek advice and compare it with an authentic product at an authorized retailer.

For online purchases, the website also recommends that consumers follow these precautions:

  • Always retain the disputed product; it is your only proof of receiving a counterfeit. If returned, sellers will simply deny it is counterfeit and sell it to another unsuspecting consumer.
  • Dispute the purchase and request a refund from the seller or website.
  • If a refund is denied; notify your credit card company that you have retained the counterfeit product and are disputing the charge.