Online shopping is a growing trend and counterfeiters are taking full advantage, launching sophisticated, bogus websites daily. These websites serve as an outlet for counterfeit goods and phishing attempts that scam everyday consumers into paying money for a product with little to no value – if they even get a product at all.

As this problem grows, the question arises – who is to blame? Is it the consumer for buying the product or the counterfeited brand for letting it happen?

Document Security Systems, Inc. (DSS) took a closer look at this issue and conducted a research study examining what consumers thought about online shopping security.

According to our online survey, conducted on our behalf by Harris Poll in January among 1,000 smartphone users (18+), 71% of smartphone users stated that merchant websites are at least somewhat capable of preventing online purchases of counterfeit merchandise.

While the vast majority of smartphone owners (86%) believe a manufacturer has a responsibility to ensure retailers claiming to sell its products are selling “the real thing,” we find that many brand owners feel that consumers should know the age-old saying ‘if it’s too good to be true, it probably is.

However, this ‘buyer beware’ mentality leaves the consumer exposed unknowingly and in turn, can erode their trust in the brand. Without consumer education programs in place, consumers have little knowledge of what to look for in a legitimate website, or just how real this problem is.

Take for example the trusted marks of a genuine website, such as SSL certificates and verified symbols. Almost half of smartphone owners (48%) believe these are signs that an online retailer is genuine. What they don’t realize is just how easily these marks are duplicated and placed on fake websites – concealing the counterfeiter. With little to no effort, these symbols can be dragged and dropped from a real website to a fake one.

At the end of the day, brand owners need to keep consumers’ trust in order to stay in business. One way to do that is by taking a strong stance against counterfeiting. According to the same study, 88% of smartphone owners would have a better opinion of a brand they feel is taking steps to make sure their products are not counterfeited.

For more information on how brand owners and consumers alike can curb the issue of counterfeit websites and product, please click here

Research methodology:
This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Poll on behalf of Document Security Systems, Inc. from January 2-8th, 2014 among 1,015 U.S. smartphone owners ages 18 and older. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables, please call the DSS Corporate Office at 585-325-3610.