Beware of unsafe goods at Christmas
Published: 05 Dec 2018

Although Christmas time is very much the season of giving, the message this year coming from KPMG is simply to be careful what you buy considering the number of counterfeit products on the market is rising, presenting a possible safety risk.

In the last two years, 39 cases involving a total of £116m of counterfeit and pirated goods have been prosecuted in the UK. The goods range from hair straighteners to ebooks and perfumes, all of which can cause harm if they are not made correctly.

This warning comes only days after the City of London Police's Intellectual Property Crime Unit launched the hashtag #shockingfakes to highlight dangers of counterfeit electrical goods. Aside from the physical safety risks arising from fake products, some shoppers buying the items online could also become victims of identity theft.

In addition, back in June, a report from consumer protection charity Electrical Safety First found that 30% of the people it surveyed has unwittingly bought fake electrical items online that were advertised as genuine products. It also found that large, reputable websites were being exploited by third-party sellers selling fake items such as tumble dryers, kettles, travel adapters and hair straighteners - all of which could cause damage, injury and even loss of life if they malfunction.

And whilst the Intellectual Property Crime Unit has worked with the EU's Europol this year to shut down over 31,000 websites with the intention of stopping the online sale of counterfeit goods, the issue is still a serious one, especially around Christmas when shoppers are desperate to get high-end gifts for loved ones at budget prices.

KPMG Forensic Partner, James Maycock, said: "While counterfeit products may be enticing, particularly in uncertain economic times, consumers really need to be aware of the risks. Counterfeit items, particularly items such as perfumes, batteries, alcohol, tobacco and electronic goods may seriously damage your health. Therefore ‘Buyer beware’ should be firmly in the mind of any tempted consumer."

Be vigilant this Christmas, and stay safe!