Beware of Counterfeit Merchandise When Shopping Online

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(DGIwire) – Let’s face it: We all want the latest gadget without decimating our budgets. But price-savvy consumers should be wary: if they spot a seemingly too-good-to-be-true deal online for Beats by Dre headphones, the latest Trek mountain bike or a LifeProof case for the iPhone 5, it’s probably not what it seems.

The enormous convenience and growing popularity of online shopping has a dark side: it’s a breeding ground for counterfeit goods. In fact, the web is crawling with fake merchandise. According to the Better Business Bureau, the problem of counterfeit goods is rampant in virtually every category, from clothing, jewelry and perfume to sunglasses, shoes and handbags. Criminals are going to such great lengths to pass off fake products as real that many sites show pictures of the genuine article and then ship a counterfeit to customers.

“Consumers can indeed find good deals on some new name-brand items,” says Paulette Scarpettie, President of the Connecticut Better Business Bureau, in an article on MoneyCrashers.com. “However, if buyers aren’t careful, they might end up with poor-quality items or hand over their credit card information and receive nothing at all.”

How can one still find a steal of a deal online without being stolen from? Experts suggest the following precautions:

1. Do Necessary Homework: The best way to avoid being taken advantage of is to purchase products only through reputable businesses.

2. Train the Eye: Looks can be deceiving, and there’s no quicker way to learn that than by carefully inspecting the product for things like misspelled brand names or odd or misshaped letterings.

3. Research the Market: There are bargains, but be realistic about what name-brand items typically fetch. If the price is significantly lower, consider it a big red flag.

4. Be Careful about Buzzwords: Experts say shady retailers often overuse words like “genuine,” “real” or “authentic,” trying to convince consumers they can be trusted.

When it comes to sophisticated criminal minds, even the most careful vigilance isn’t foolproof. This is where Applied DNA Sciences comes in. Headquartered in Stony Brook, NY, this innovative security solutions company has developed anti-counterfeiting solutions for clients both commercial and military. Using plant DNA as a forensic foundation, Applied DNA Sciences addresses the challenges of counterfeit goods with their SigNature® DNA family of products.

Signature DNA is a unique DNA-based marker, an ingredient that can be embedded into fabric, ink, varnish, laminates, metal coatings and other materials during the manufacturing stage, or down the line and a supply-chain to certify provenance. For any particular type of merchandise, the DNA marking can be detected at each step along the supply chain—from factory to warehouse to assure originality.

In situations where it might not be immediately or easily possible to establish originality, the marker is used for traceability, so that the immediate source of the item is identified without question.

“Some people claim that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery,” says Dr. James Hayward, President and CEO of Applied DNA Sciences. “But sellers of products might disagree, since they stand to lose substantial sums of money, not to mention much of their hard-earned reputation, when their sales are undermined by counterfeiters. With such crimes at an all-time high, our technology could provide another layer of protection for consumers and legitimate merchants alike.”

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