WASHINGTON (WCMH) – The Immigration and Customs Enforcement released a toolkit to help protect consumers this holiday shopping season.

Online shopping protection list

  • Purchase goods only from reputable retailers and be wary of third-party vendors.
  • Check seller reviews and verify there is a working phone number and address for the seller, in case you have questions about the legitimacy of a product.
  • Read product reviews on websites and research companies you aren’t familiar with.
  • Don’t buy expensive items from third party websites.

“For most, the holidays represent a season of goodwill and giving, but for criminals, it’s the season to lure in unsuspecting holiday shoppers,” said IPR Center Director Matt Allen in a posting on the ICE website. “One of the key principles of crime prevention is education, and this holiday guide ensures consumers are equipped with advice from experts on how to protect their personal financial data and avoid buying gifts that can be harmful to their loved ones.”

Why counterfeit merchandise is dangerous

  • There are numerous risks with buying counterfeit toys, health goods, and toys.
  • Electronics can overheat and explode
  • Health care items could be unsanitary
  • Toys won’t comply with more than 100 different safety standards and tests required by law

“Fake goods pose real dangers to your health and safety and jeopardize the U.S. economy,” said AnnMarie Highsmith, Executive Assistant Commissioner of CBP’s Office of Trade in a website posting.

The work being done is a constant. Between Oct. 1, 2020, and July of this year, CBP made 22,849 seizures worth $2.5 billion. That’s $2.5 billion dollars in legitimate revenue in criminals’ pockets.