With US Senator Chuck Grassley
Q: What should consumers know when shopping for gifts this holiday season and beyond?
A: The pandemic has fueled online shopping as more Americans have turned to e-commerce for everyday goods and gifts. Estimates project record online shopping this holiday season, with sales reaching $ 207 billion in online sales. As the U.S. economy struggles to overcome bottlenecks and low inventories in the supply chain, concerns about slow shipments and delivery delays aren’t the only issues consumers need to watch out for. . Law enforcement and consumer watchdogs are warning shoppers to be on the lookout for counterfeit and counterfeit products. Counterfeit and pirated products scam consumers to the tune of $ 500 billion every year. And it doesn’t just hit luxury brands and retailers. Counterfeit products pose dangerous health risks to consumers, from fake baby formulas to defective batteries and bad cosmetics. When shopping for products online, don’t be ashamed to be skeptical. If a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Always trust your instincts. A good deal is not worth it if the product purchased is counterfeit or unsafe. Before sharing sensitive information and financial information online, make sure the website uses a safe and secure transaction portal. Specifically, look for a padlock symbol and the https: // in your browser. It is an important security tool which indicates that your payments are protected. For example, rogue websites can install malware that can browse your credit card information and passwords stored on your hard drive. Consumer watchdogs also recommend that buyers check labels and packaging for broken or non-existent security seals, contaminated products, false warranty information, and expiration dates on perishable products. Giving and receiving is a cherished tradition in America. I encourage buyers to protect themselves and their loved ones this holiday season. Don’t blindly pour your hard earned money and savings into an online portal or online retailer without due diligence to make sure it is a business you trust.
Q: What should consumers do if they have been duped by counterfeit products?
A: Don’t just attribute this to a hard lesson learned. Take steps that can help others avoid being robbed. Report dangerous counterfeit goods to US Customs Border Protection or the National IPR Center. Or, report suspicious activity by calling (800) Be Alert. The National Center for Intellectual Property Rights works to protect Americans from transnational criminal organizations and to combat intellectual property (IP) theft. As the Senior Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, I use my legislative and oversight authority to keep the pressure on faithfully enforcing our nation’s anti-fraud laws and consumer protection tools. Bringing teeth into trade enforcement and holding federal agencies accountable are two ways I work on behalf of the Iowans to protect their well-being and their hard-earned money. Getting scammed by online hacking not only harms consumers, but creates an unfair situation for legitimate retailers who play by the rules, jump regulatory hurdles, and pay taxes to create jobs and support local economies. Bad actors are infiltrating every sector of the economy, from pharmaceuticals and entertainment to electronics and clothing. Consider the disappointment when cybercriminals defraud sports fans by selling bogus tickets to a Big 10 football game at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City or to witness the magic of basketball at the Hilton Coliseum in Ames. This is a growing problem that I am working to resolve on behalf of the people of Iowa. I am co-sponsoring a bipartisan bill that targets the online sale of stolen, counterfeit and dangerous products. It asks online retail marketplaces that include third-party sellers of consumer products to verify the identity of those sellers. In cities across America, we are seeing an increase in organized crime sprees known as “smash and grab” targeting physical stores. I work to protect consumers from organized criminal retail networks that wholesale stolen or counterfeit items online. Improving transparency will help consumers be savvy buyers and deter illegal sales. This is the season to prevent the cranky online from taking advantage of consumer trust and building trust in the marketplace, online and on Main Street.