U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

  1. Home
  2. Trade
  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.

 

Image of a map. Fiscal Year 2021 IPR Seizure Statistics by Number of Seizure Lines. FY 2021 Totals – Number of Seizure lines: 102,490. MSRP: $3.3 Billion. Colombia, 6%; Turkey, 11%; China, 33%; Hong Kong, 18%, Philippines, 6%; All other countries, 27%

Health and Safety

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

Top Health and Safety Products Seized – FY 2021. 46.6% pharmaceuticals with icon; 17.8% consumer electronics, 15.3% automotive/aerospace with icon; 7% wearing apparel/accessories with icon; cigarette 4.7% with icon; 2.6% consumer products with icon; 1.3% computers/accessories with icon; .6% sporting goods with icon .3% food with icon; 3.8% all other commodities. Total number of Health and Safety Seizures: 6,532. Total MSRP of these seizures $367,922,465

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.

Graphic with item types and the amount seized. Top Products Seized by Number of Seizure Lines. Wearing Apparel/Accessories 30%; Handbags/Wallets 28%; Footwear 13%; Watched/Jewelry 12%; Consumer Electronics 5%; Consumer Products 4%; Pharmaceuticals 3%; Automotive/Aerospace 1%; Label Tags 1%; All other commodities 4%

E-Commerce 

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.

Seizures by Mode of Transportation. Image of a place with 16,926 Express; image of a mail truck with 7,293 Mail; image of a ship with 2,274 Cargo; All other modes 622.
  • Last Modified: August 19, 2022