As the holiday season creeps upon us, research shows that an astonishing 24% people who are buying online have been duped by scammers. Whether you are buying shoes, electronics or the latest fashions and accessories, research companies are showing that you are at risk of being duped.

When you look at the overall shopping behavior of consumers, we see that about 34% do all of their shopping online, and during the holiday season, this number rises to 39% of all consumers. That is a lot of people for counterfeiters to focus on.

Mark Frost, the CEO of MarkMonitor, explains that it is crucial for customers to stay aware of the possibility of buying counterfeit goods, especially during the holidays. Most of us are looking for a bargain, and this is exactly why we tend to jump on these deals. On top of this, counterfeiters have gotten very good at making these fake goods look almost identical to the real deal, and it is near impossible, in some cases, for the untrained eye to tell them apart. Here are some more facts:

People are Exposed to Online Counterfeit Goods All of the Time

With so many counterfeit goods out there, you have likely been exposed to them, or even made a purchase. Younger people are more at risk of buying these goods, and when looking at those in the 18-34 year old range, almost 40% had purchased counterfeit goods in the past.

In addition to these goods, about 56% of people have received counterfeit emails, or those that seem as if they are coming from a certain company, such as Nike, but in reality, all of the items are fake. Fortunately, only about one in 20 consumers are likely to click on these links, but that means that about 5% of consumers are directed to these sites, too, and may get caught up in the bargains.

This is a Global Issue

Statistics also show that about 64% of global consumers are worried about online security. These same consumers report that they feel safer buying from local extensions, such as .de, .uk and .co.

Attitudes Towards Buying Counterfeit Goods

One of the most alarming facts that come up in these studies is that about 20% of consumers continue the purchase of their goods, even after finding themselves on a website with counterfeit goods.

As you continue your holiday shopping, make sure to keep these facts in mind and make sure to research any site you choose to buy from, even those that look like they may be legitimate.

Shoppers need to be cautious when searching online to spread their holiday cheer and MarkMonitor suggests checking this list twice to find out if websites are naughty or nice:

  1. Check the URL: In a practice known as “typosquatting” fraudulent sites will often be under a misspelled brandname.com, attempting to trick consumers into thinking they are on a reputable website.
  2. Check the Price: Counterfeiters have been getting very smart about pricing lately and not discounting their wares as heavily as before, but deep discounts – especially on unknown e-commerce sites – are a tip-off that consumers should do a lot more checking before buying.
  3. Check the “About” and the “FAQs” pages: Though some sites look professional at first glance, but are not always so careful about these pages. Check for spelling and grammatical errors.
  4. Check for reviews: Many fraudulent websites’ reputations proceed them. Search for what people are saying about the site and include the term ‘scam’ with the site name to see if they are known to be a risky site.  
Author's Bio: 

Robert Siciliano CEO of IDTheftSecurity.com, personal security and identity theft expert and speaker is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Identity Was Stolen. See him knock’em dead in this identity theft prevention video. Disclosures.