Counterfeit goods

Reporting counterfeit goods

If you want to report somebody for selling fake goods contact the Citizens Advice consumer service on 03454 040506 or fill in the Citizens Advice Consumer Service online form

The helpline is open Monday to Friday 9.00am to 5.00pm

What are counterfeit goods

Counterfeit goods are ‘fake’ goods, normally copies holding logos or brand names which are registered as Trade Marks. Common counterfeit goods include:

  • illicit tobacco
  • designer labelled clothes
  • alcohol
  • CDs and DVDs
  • computer software and games
  • watches
  • perfume
  • cosmetics

Many of these items are protected by specific legislation which makes it a criminal offence for anyone other than the original rights owner to produce those items.

Why you should avoid buying counterfeit goods

Your safety

The goods may be poor quality and even dangerous. For example, counterfeit alcohol may contain dangerous chemicals, counterfeit car parts may be faulty and cause accidents, counterfeit toys may fall apart and be a choking hazard to children.

Help reduce organised crime

Sales of counterfeit goods often form part of large scale, organised crime such as drug dealing and terrorism.

Fund new products and recognise the right person

Buying counterfeit goods means the original designer of the goods won’t make as much profit, sometimes this can really affect their business. For example, a computer games company will end up with less money to spend on creating new games.

Keep genuine traders in business

People who sell counterfeit goods don't pay taxes on what they sell and often sell at much lower prices. This means businesses that make or sell genuine goods can't compete with the price.

How to avoid buying counterfeit goods

If it looks too good to be true then it probably is. Be suspicious about bargains. Check the quality of the goods, feel the weight, look at the materials, also look out for spelling mistakes and poorly designed logos.

Is there a returns policy? To return something you need to be confident that you can locate the seller after you’ve bought the goods.

Be more wary if goods are being sold in places where it may be difficult to contact the seller after the sale. For example on the internet, at car boot sales, street markets and pubs.

The law and counterfeit goods

People who sell counterfeit goods can face maximum criminal penalties of unlimited fines and up to 10 years imprisonment..

Illicit tobacco

Illicit Tobacco is often sold at car boot sales, ‘fag’ or ‘tab’ houses and even ice-cream vans and mobile food stations, as cigarettes or hand rolling tobacco that has been smuggled, bootlegged or counterfeit. Mostly it is brought into the UK from Eastern Europe and the Far east.