Buying a knockoff purse or jersey is one thing, and we can take you down a rabbit hole of “why you shouldn’t do that” that would occupy you for hours. But when it comes to items you ingest and don’t simply wear, you need to pay attention.
Supplementing your healthcare regime with vitamins, shakes, or other products that you’ve learned about is one way to “up” your wellness game. And it can be tempting to avoid shipping costs by going to an online retailer that offers speedier shipping times and lower fees. But buyer beware – just because the label says it is the official brand, it doesn’t mean it is.
Online retailers like Amazon have worked diligently to address third-party sellers who list knockoffs of nearly all legitimate products, as well as investigate all complaints of potentially counterfeit products. If a fake product is discovered, they will notify anyone who has purchased that product immediately. Additionally, they have created initiatives that address the problem like Brand Registry and Project Zero that allow brands to work with Amazon on maintaining brand integrity.
Correcting the Issue
But fixing fraud isn’t going to happen simply because online retailers take a stand. There are whole businesses that are created to simply knock off the efforts of others. In 2016 the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development indicated that the counterfeit market generated $509 BILLION dollars.
And don’t count on the sales platform (eBay, Amazon, etc.) to be responsible when and if you do purchase counterfeit products. They can find protection from Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA) of 1996. Additionally, supplements are not restricted by any FDA drug regulations either – they fall under the food guidelines.
The labels will look identical despite the product being possibly expired, stolen, or different ingredients that do nothing that the actual product promises. The supplement industry is not alone in this attack on its legitimacy. Medications are also at risk. According to the FDA, these are also being distributed with zero active ingredients by fraudulent sellers.
How Can You Know?
There are legitimate retailers online and using third-party platforms, but you need to do your research. Ask the company directly if they offer online sales through Amazon or eBay or whichever channel you’re using. A quick email usually gets an answer. Often the seller is identified as well, and you can see if you’re using their official storefront within the platform. The best way to ensure that you are buying a safe and valid product is to buy direct from the manufacturer or a legitimate retailer that stands behind their product vendor relationship.