CBP Campaign to Inform Travelers of Dangers of Counterfeit Goods

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has launched the “The Truth Behind Counterfeits” campaign to raise awareness of the dangers and negative impacts of purchasing counterfeit goods.

The Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) initiative is an educational awareness campaign for international travelers, designed to call attention to the growing impacts of purchasing counterfeit goods, including the loss of American jobs and the support of criminal activity.

Last year CBP seized more than $1.3 billion in counterfeit goods.

Brenda Smith, Executive Assistant Commissioner for the Office of Trade

“CBP is committed to protecting consumers and enforcing U.S. trade laws, and this campaign will help raise awareness and educate the traveling public about the dangers of purchasing counterfeit goods,” said Brenda Smith, Executive Assistant Commissioner for the Office of Trade.

“Not only do counterfeits damage the American economy, such goods can threaten the health and safety of consumers.”

The campaign will run through July at six of the busiest U.S. international airports:

  • Baltimore Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport
  • Chicago O’Hare International Airport
  • Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport
  • Los Angeles International Airport
  • New York John F. Kennedy International Airport
  • Washington Dulles International Airport
(Image Credit: CBP)
(Image Credit: CBP)

Counterfeit products pose criminal, financial, and consumer safety risks for the United States and its citizens.

For example, the purchase of counterfeit goods often supports the funding of criminal enterprises and activity, such as money laundering, smuggling, and trafficking in illegal guns and drugs.

Counterfeits also have a large impact on the prosperity of the U.S. economy. When consumers purchase these counterfeit items, legitimate companies lose revenue, translating to lost U.S. jobs and profits over time.

David Hirschmann, President and CEO, Global Intellectual Property Center, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
David Hirschmann, President and CEO, Global Intellectual Property Center, U.S. Chamber of Commerce

“America’s economy runs on authentic innovation. Criminals trafficking in illicit trade threaten America’s prosperity and may jeopardize the health and safety of unwitting consumers,” said David Hirschmann, President and CEO, Global Intellectual Property Center, U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

“We applaud U.S. Customs and Border Protection for recognizing the global scope of counterfeiting and the need to educate consumers on how to protect themselves.”

“We hope this initiative will make travelers more aware of the significant problem and real dangers of counterfeit goods.”

(Learn More about how economic and social impact of buying counterfeit goods. Courtesy of ICE and YouTube)

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. When traveling, buy from reputable sources.

Economic Impacts

  • Each year, CBP seizes all kinds of counterfeit products from all over the world.
  • Counterfeiters look to make profits by making fake versions of the hottest products as soon they are available on the market.
  • Each time you buy a counterfeit good, a legitimate company loses revenue.
  • This translates to lost profits and U.S. jobs over time. Know who you buy from.

Health and Safety

  • Counterfeiters don’t care about your well-being.
  • They just want to make a profit.
  • Many counterfeit products are low-quality and can cause injuries.
  • Last year, CBP seized more items that pose health and safety risks than ever before.
  • The top three categories were personal care, pharmaceuticals, and consumer electronics.
  • Protect yourself and your family by avoiding potentially risky items.

IPR products seized infographic

Legal Implications

  • It is illegal to purchase counterfeit goods.
  • Bringing them into the United States may result in civil or criminal penalties.
  • Purchasing counterfeit goods supports criminal activities such as money laundering and trafficking in illegal guns and drugs.
  • Remember, if it seems like a steal, it is.

In addition, counterfeit goods may create health and safety concerns for consumers, as they are often made of inferior materials, manufactured under uncontrolled and unsanitary conditions and labeled with false information.

Counterfeit (Image Credit: CBP)
(Image Credit: CBP)

Digital ads will also be displayed on travel websites to augment the physical ads in the airports.

For additional information on CBP’s IPR enforcement efforts and about this public awareness campaign, visit www.cbp.gov/.fakegoodsrealdangers.

If you have any information regarding suspected fraud or illegal trade activity, please contact CBP through the e-Allegations website or by calling 1-800-BE-ALERT.