JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -
Attorney General Jim hood is offering some important safety tips to help keep you from being duped this holiday shopping season. He warns consumers to beware of scams selling counterfeit or pirated goods in person and online.
- Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Use common sense. If you think something is fishy with a website, it very well may be an illegitimate company. You should be suspicious if you find a pair of jeans that normally retail for $300, for only $50 online. Look out for sites with poor quality photos, spelling mistakes and lack of terms. If you are purchasing items from an auction site, see how many identical products they have available. For example, if they have too many of an expensive custom-made handbag, the handbags are probably fake. Avoid websites offering unlimited downloads of music or movies, or offering mixed versions of songs. For in-person transactions, trust your gut if the store's location or policies are unusual.
- Look for Secure Websites. Shop from online sites that display https:// rather than http:// in the address bar. Also look for a padlock image at the bottom of the browser. These indicate the website is secure, and has a safe encrypted connection. Sites that do not have secure connections are not storing consumer data in a secure manner.
- Authorized Retail Sites. Many companies have lists on their websites or product packaging of sites where you can buy their goods. These are sites that are considered authorized online retail stores, and you are guaranteed to purchase a legitimate product. If you are uncertain whether a site is selling genuine products, ask the retailer where they got the goods and for other verifiable information.
- Product Shipping. Unfortunately, many illegitimate goods may look genuine, and unless you are a professional working at the company in question, you may not be able to tell the difference. However, look for the small details. Are the "use by" dates missing or expired? Are the safety seals broken or missing? Did it come with the appropriate warranty information? Is there anything unusual about the packaging?
- Prescriptions. Be extra careful when ordering prescription drugs online or from an unauthorized dealer. Instead, buy such drugs only from a reputable pharmacy. If you purchase medicine from a website you haven't used before, compare the new drugs to your current ones. Do they match up in size, shape, color and taste? Are you experiencing any new side effects after taking a dosage? You may also contact your pharmacist or the manufacturer to determine if the new vendor is a legitimate company. Remember, all online pharmacies located in the United States must be licensed by the state board of pharmacy where the online vendor is located. To check and see if your pharmacy is licensed go to http://www.mbp.state.ms.us/mbop/pharmacy.nsf.
For more information on Mississippi's efforts to combat intellectual property theft crimes, please visit the Attorney General's Mississippi Intellectual Property Crimes Center (MIPCC) website, http://mipcc.ago.state.ms.us . You will also find a link via the Attorney General's website, www.agjimhood.com. The MIPCC offers tips to help consumers recognize and alert authorities to bogus brand names.
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