Jingle bells, this deal smells
“Strolling through the stalls,
Five presents on each arm.
You’re almost done, but then you see,
A steal, so what’s the harm?
Perfume that‘s just cheap,
A really cute keepsake
These prices are too good to miss,
But are these just a fake?
Counterfeit, Counterfeit
Should I risk my life?
Mock-up, dummy, forgery…
Is it worth the strife?
Counterfeit, counterfeit
Is it worth the danger?
There are a lot of fakes about,
So don’t buy from a stranger!”

Counterfeit goods cost the UK economy around £1.3 billion a year in lost profits and taxes, and Halton Borough Council is doing its best to raise awareness of the pitfalls of buying from dodgy dealers.

You may have seen our #BuyReal posts on Twitter and Facebook.

The cost-cutting approach of counterfeiting operations means products are likely to be poor quality, with a significantly shorter lifespan than that of a legitimate product. Such products will generally not meet required safety standards, putting you and your families at significant risk.

Just last week, Fingerlings, this year’s Christmas must-have toy, made national news as stock shortages sent desperate parents into the arms of counterfeit traders with cheap, potentially dangerous fakes.

Aside from often shoddy workmanship, a cheap deal on the latest gifts can have frightening consequences:

• Counterfeit make-up can contain lead, copper, mercury, arsenic or cadmium and can cause swelling, rashes and poisoning.
• Fake alcohol can contain methanol, antifreeze and fuel, causing nausea, stomach pains, kidney or liver problems, coma or death.
• Unofficial children’s merchandise such as toys and dressing-up clothes could pose numerous hazards with small loose parts, long cords and materials that are toxic or not conforming to fire retardant standards.
• Poor quality and missing components in fake electrical goods and chargers can lead to electric shocks, fires and explosions – we all remember the ‘Hoverboard’ fiasco!
• Profits made from counterfeit sales can go on to fund larger criminal operations, including organised crime and even terrorism₂.

Halton Borough Council’s Executive Board Member for Trading Standards, Cllr Dave Cargill, said: “If a price seems too good to be true then it likely is; don’t get sucked in by crazy deals.”

If you have unwittingly bought fake goods or know of anyone who sells counterfeit goods, you can report it to the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline₃ on 03454 040506.

If you have any information relating specifically to the sale of illicit cigarettes or alcohol then you can telephone the Halton Trading Standards Hotline for Alcohol and Tobacco on 0151 511 8787.

This is a reporting voicemail facility only and any information provided can be left anonymously, however, please provide enough information to identify those involved and if you want feedback your contact details too.

Remember all other trading standards matters can be reported in the usual manner by contacting 03454 040506, as above