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  3. The Truth Behind Counterfeits

The Truth Behind Counterfeits

The dangers of buying counterfeit products aren’t always obvious. There are economic impacts, legal implications, and health and safety risks that are important for you to know before you buy. Particularly, when shopping online, beware of counterfeit goods.  Fake goods can lead to real dangers.

Image displaying IPR impacts - Economic Impacts, Health & Safety, and Legal Implications


Economic Impacts

Each time you buy a counterfeit good, a legitimate company loses revenue. This translates to lost profits and the loss of U.S. jobs over time. Moreover, you work hard for your money and by buying from reputable sources, you help to guarantee that you are getting what you paid for.  Know who you buy from.

Infographic. Fiscal Year 2020 IPR Seizures Statistics by number of seizures. China 44%, Turkey 4%, Saudi Arabia 2%, Taiwan 2%, Hong Kong 35%, all other countries 13%. FY 2020 Totals - Number of seizures: 26,503. MRSP: $1.3 billion

Health and Safety

Many counterfeit products are low-quality and can cause injuries.  Protect yourself and your family by avoiding potentially risky items.

Infographic. Top Health and Safety Products Seized – FY 2020. Consumer Electionics 27%, Sunglasses/Eyewear 24%, Pharmecuticals 14%, Personal Care 7%, Automotive/Transportation 6%, Batteries 3%, Cigarettes 2%, Guns/Parts 2%, Lights/Lamps 2%, All other commodities 13%. Total Number of Health and Safety Seizures: 3,487. MSRP Value of Health and Safety Seizures: $149,632,409.

Legal Implications

It is illegal to purchase counterfeit goods.  Bringing them into the United States may result in civil or criminal penalties and purchasing counterfeit goods often supports criminal activities, such as forced labor or human trafficking.  Help to stop the funding of criminal enterprises by buying authentic goods.

Infographic. Top Product Seized by Number of Seizures. Handbags/Wallets 17%, Wearing apparel/accessories 14%, watched/jewelry 13%, footwear 13%, consumer electronics 11%, consumer products 7%, pharmaceuticals 2%, sporting gods 1%, automobile/transportation 1%, all other commodities 21%.


E-Commerce sales have contributed to large volumes of low-value, small packages being imported into the United States. Over 90 percent of all counterfeit seizures occur in the international mail and express environments which are channels that small, e-commerce packages destined for U.S. addresses travel through. Many of these shipments contain counterfeit goods that pose the same health, safety, and economic security risks as large, containerized shipments.  Make sure to shop from reputable sources online. To learn more about CBP’s E-Commerce strategy, visit CBP’s E-Commerce website.

Infographic. Seizures by Mode of Transportation. Express 17,001, Mail 6,886, Cargo 1993, all others 623 seizures.


Last Modified: April 19, 2022