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How to Avoid Buying Fakes on eBay and Online

How to Avoid Buying Fakes on eBay and Online

Brands have gotten better, I believe, about policing online marketplaces for fake goods. There may be a fake Chanel item up on eBay a little while but I don't believe it will be there for long.  But that doesn't mean that every brand is policing every item, or if they are, can keep up with it. Still, there are things you can do as a buyer to reduce your chances of getting burned by fakes.

- Avoid Buying the Types of Items Most Often Faked

Some of the most fakes items include things like brand-name shoes and luxury clothing. But it can be other things too like household web sire featured a picture of a fake Sharpie pen, of all things. There can be bootleg movies and even pharmaceuticals and baby products, which could be dangerous. You can avoid buying the latter kind of thing online. For the former..

- Look for all the Signs of Authenticity

Know Thy Luxury Item. I am a big fan of Chanel clothing and jewelry, and I bought a very good authenticity guide that shows what the Chanel signs of fakes are.  These can be things like the logos not looking right, the color of the logo not matching the details of the bag, and the all-important serial number and its modern hologram.

Bear in mind that even if you are buying vintage you may come across a counterfeit item. But a serial number label from the 1990s is going to look different from one from 2016, so you can use an authenticity guide to reference that the item's labels look appropriate for their era.

- Packaging

Luxury items come with specific packaging, such as dust bags for Chanel bags. The one time I got burned by a fake purse on eBay, I noticed its handles cam wrapped in plastic. This was never done with the real brand. It also just felt cheaper, with poor quality leather and hardware. Sometimes the "smell" or "look 'n' feel" test is the best.  Just be sure the seller has a return return policy is a red flag!

- Seller Feedback

Because it is impossible to know the scope of what all the fake items are out there, you can always carefully check seller feedback. If one person has been burned, likely it will show up there. And if the seller doesn't have any feedback, or very little feedback, don't take the chance buying from them.

It's good to go into a real retail store for a brand to get familiar with exactly how their authentic items look. Some of the fake items are now starting to look as good as real items, so these details matter even more.

"The problem is that the fake products today, they make better quality, better prices than the real products, the real names,” Alibaba chair Jack Ma was quoted as saying in a Bloomberg article. “It’s not the fake products that destroy them, it’s the new business models.”

But he also said Alibaba is the best in the world at fighting the sale of counterfeits.

So, be careful out there. It doesn't mean you can't find plenty of real deals online -- just watch out that the deal is not too good to be true.