How to spot if you’ve bought a fake item

Its not always this easy to spot the fake - Elvis lookalikeInspect the packaging and item carefully

Look out for the tell-tale signs of flimsy packaging and substandard printing, such as spelling mistakes or grammatical errors. If you’re questioning the packaging, compare your item to an online image from a trusted, high street retailer.

Look for a legitimate safety certification label

All electrical products will have one or more safety certifications on their label if made by a legitimate manufacturer. If the certification mark is present only on the packaging, but not on the product itself, there’s a good chance the product is fake.

Make sure everything that should be there is there

Fake products may not include supplementary materials such as a manual or a product registration card or even all the parts!

Check the plug

If you’ve purchased your product from a UK retailer, look to see whether the appliance has a three-pin UK plug or charger.

Trust your instinct – you’re probably right

If you are still uncertain about your product for any reason, you’re probably right to be wary. Visit the high street to compare your product to those on sale in store; if your item varies in any way do not use it.

Can you spot the fake?

Genuine Apple ChargerFake Apple Charger (1)

Using our tips, can you tell which of the two chargers above is genuine, and which is fake? Even with all the correct information, it can be incredibly difficult to tell – 3 in 5 people couldn’t tell the difference.

If you suspect you’ve ended up with a fake despite your best efforts, see below for our advice.

What to do if you’ve bought a fake item

Act immediately

If you have proof your item is fake, contact the supplier immediately stating your case and demand an explanation; if there has been a mistake made, now is their chance to clarify.

Demand a refund – but stay civil and calm

You have the legal right to a refund if you’ve bought something that’s fake. Despite this, it can be difficult if you’ve made the purchase from an unknown source so be sure to pay with PayPal or your credit card, as your purchase will likely be insured.

If the seller refuses to give you a refund

If you are not able to settle the dispute yourself, contact the retailer that manages the marketplace (such as Amazon) as they are able to intervene on your behalf. If they are unable to help, contact the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 03444 111 444 for advice.

Alert other consumers – provide feedback 

If you can, leave feedback to warn future shoppers about the situation and potential problems, but do stick to the facts and make sure any claims are accurate.

Don’t ignore it – report it 

If you know your product is fake, report it to Trading Standards so that they can take action against the seller; selling fake products is illegal and puts people’s lives at risk.

Report a problem with a trader or product to Trading Standards by contacting Citizen’s Advice, who will pass the details to your local Trading Standards service:


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