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Awareness key to avoiding counterfeit products when shopping online

Kari Kamel, Saleem Alhabash
Russ White | MSU Today
Kari Kamel, Saleem Alhabash

Kari Kamel and Saleem Alhabash are with MSU’s Center for Anti-Counterfeiting and Product Protection (A-CAPP).

Kari Kammel is the director of MSU’s Center for Anti-Counterfeiting and Product Protection (A-CAPP) in the College of Social Science and an adjunct professor in Michigan State University’s College of Law. She is an expert on legal issues relating to trademark counterfeiting, e-commerce, social media liability for trademark counterfeiting and intellectual property legal issues.

Saleem Alhabash is a professor in the Department of Advertising and Public Relations at MSU’s College of Communication Arts and Sciences. He is an expert on the persuasive impacts of digital and social media across many contexts, such as online safety and anti-counterfeiting. Alhabash is the associate director of research for MSU’s A-CAPP.

Conversation Highlights:

(1:06) – “So, I did a little research and applied for a job they had open there and discovered there’s this whole world of people and organizations out there that essentially are faking legitimate products and then selling them for profit.”

(2:28) – “As the world of ecommerce has mushroomed into our daily lives, there has been increasing understanding that this phenomenon is really hard to contain.”

(4:23) – The history and mission of MSU’s Center for Anti-Counterfeiting and Product Protection.

(8:57) – Frame the issue. How pervasive is the problem?

(11:48) – How do the social media play into this?

(18:05) – It’s particularly “scary” when you’re talking about counterfeit medicine and food and “anything you put in or on your body.” There can also be health issues with counterfeit apparel. Kari describes third party sellers and their role.

(22:05) – What’s the psychology behind a person knowingly buying counterfeit products?

(24:53) – Is almost anything counterfeit bad? The clothing is often produced in conditions where workers are treated horribly. Think about where your money is going. It’s going to places like that and even to organized crime.

(27:43) – What are the INFORM Consumers Act and SHOP SAFE Act and how are they designed to help?

(31:26) – What are some tips for being more aware of counterfeit products when shopping online and avoiding them all together? Be especially wary of online pharmacies. Overall, “be vigilant, critical, and skeptical of the information that you look at.” Know where you’re buying from.

(39:20) – More tips for shopping safely online. Don’t buy anything through social media without doing more research.

(43:11) – Key takeaways. “Be aware of what you’re buying and what the impact of that is. If you do buy something and realize it’s counterfeit, please report it. If you can report it, that helps take down the listing so that other people aren’t also going through that experience in buying it, too. It helps the brands you like protect themselves, too. It’s just about awareness.”

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