5 ways to spot counterfeit electronics when shopping online

Brand Protection
August 11, 2021
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engage - How do you spot counterfeit electronics components and products

5 ways to spot counterfeit electronics when shopping online

Original vs. fake electronics — which one represents the best deal for you as a consumer? Well, fake electronics may offer some cost savings up front, but the negative aspects far outweigh the positive. Not only are you putting your health and safety — not to mention your user experience — at risk when you purchase counterfeit electronic parts, but you may also be undermining hardworking manufacturers and businesses and even funding organized crime.

With this in mind, how do you spot these counterfeit electronics? Unfortunately, there are a lot of these fake products around. In markets such as China, fake electronics are being produced in alarming quantities due to a relative lack of regulation. Many of these products — both from China and elsewhere — are now abundantly available online.

Let's take a look at how you can stay safe.

How to spot counterfeit electronics

There are a number of techniques you can use to stay safe while shopping online. Here are five of the most useful.

1. Stay up to date on industry news

Counterfeiting does not go unnoticed. A multitude of different customer rights bodies and international authorities are leading the fight against fake electronics and other forms of fraudulent items. When these entities discover a fake, they publicize it via news publications and press releases, which contain vital information for consumers.

The trouble is, consumers may not be engaged enough to be aware of these releases. If consumers can remain aware of the latest news in the electronic industry, they will know what to be aware of when trying to spot fake electronics. For example, if there is an increasing trade in counterfeit Apple products in a specific area, consumers will be able to adopt a heightened awareness when it comes to shopping for these products.

2. Look for manufacturer hallmarks

It's not just authorities and consumer rights groups that seek to keep customers informed. Manufacturers have a vested interest in making sure their consumers are connecting with originals rather than fake electronics, and they will do everything they can to educate their customer base. However, the success of this depends on a solid level of engagement in the market.

Take your time to research the latest news from the manufacturers you wish to purchase from. Reach out to their support teams to find out what to look for, including trademarks and serial numbers that indicate a genuine product. They will also be able to inform you about licensed vendors so that you can give yourself the best chance of finding the real deal.

3. Use digital solutions

Even when you are fully informed and equipped with prior knowledge, human error can still play a part. Many counterfeit electronic parts and products look very much like the real thing — even if their performance is sub-par — and this can make it very difficult to properly assess if you are dealing with a genuine item or not. This difficulty is compounded by the nature of online shopping, where you will not be able to physically engage with a product.

Digital solutions can make all the difference here. We have developed the engage™ app and platform to help customers achieve real peace of mind when they shop. The way this solution works is relatively simple but highly effective. Manufacturers log their products on the platform and manage the list of genuine product serial numbers and barcodes via a database that is updated in real time.

The app itself is loaded onto the customer's smartphone so that they can quickly and easily scan the product barcode or input the serial number. This will return an immediate result, telling the user whether or not they are dealing with a real product that they can rely on. If the vendor is not able to provide this serial number of barcode for input or scanning, this should be an immediate red flag that you are not working with a reputable seller.

4. Listen to trusted customer reviews

Customer reviews are among the most valuable resources that consumers can draw on as they seek to spot counterfeit electronics components. There are plenty of customer reviews available online, and for the most part, these reviews are impartial and trustworthy, giving consumers useful information and insight. Reading these reviews can tell you whether or not the vendor has a reputation for providing genuine products and can offer a warning about potential fakes in the market.

But consumers should not blindly trust all reviews. Vendors who deal in fraudulent electronics may post fake reviews online that back up their products. Similarly, some customer review platforms may have their own agenda. Make sure that the review platforms you are looking at are trustworthy and impartial, and learn to spot the signs of a fake review. For example, a small minority of vaguely positive reviews amid a sea of more specific negative reviews may indicate that the positive reviews are not to be trusted.

5. Adopt "too good to be true" skepticism

"Too good to be true" is not always the case. There are instances when online shoppers do find incredible deals at fantastic low prices that may be genuine. Instead of ruling out any great value offers and deals, consumers should adopt a skeptical view.

Question the deal. Ask why this incredible price is being offered. If the electronic component was released last year or the year before and an upgrade has already been released, this may result in huge discounts on products from previous years. If the product is being launched as part of a wider bundle and the low price is being used to encourage people to make this higher value purchase, this may also be genuine. Basically, there should be a good reason for the discounted price — a manufacturer or vendor is not going to offer a too-good-to-be-true price unless there are other factors in play.

In the event that you find the product is new, with no connection to other deals or subscriptions, this may be a red flag. Vendors who are dealing in counterfeit electronics may offer discount prices simply because their overheads are much lower.

The engage™ platform and app is on your side

One of the main factors behind the development of the engage™ platform and app was to keep consumers safe when they shop. We are proud of the results we have achieved with this technology, and we are committed to making a real difference in the market.

To discover more about the app and about how it works, get in touch with our team. You'll be able to schedule a free demo so that you can keep yourself protected when shopping for electrical components.

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