STAFFORDSHIRE bargain hunters are being urged to be aware of counterfeit goods when visiting car boot sales or markets over the summer.
With outdoor markets and car boot sales starting to reopen following lockdown restrictions, the county council’s trading standards team are warning people that counterfeit items could be offered to them at local markets and car boot sales.
Counterfeit goods are often poor quality imitations that will leave people out of pocket and in cases of fake alcohol and tobacco, could also be harmful to their health.
The service is particularly keen to remind people to watch out for items such as facemasks or hand sanitiser products, which could be fake or harmful. People should only buy these from a reputable retailer.
Over the last few years, Staffordshire's Trading Standards officers have seized millions of pounds of fake goods. Popular fakes include clothing, sportswear, headphones, toiletries, alcohol, tobacco and DVDs.
Victoria Wilson, cabinet member responsible for Trading Standards at Staffordshire County Council said: “With restrictions being gradually lifted following the lockdown, we’re starting to see more and more car boot sales and markets reopen. This is just a gentle reminder for people to be on their guard for counterfeit items.
“Fakes are increasingly hard to detect by just looking at them, so when something is being sold at a knock-down price, people should be extremely wary. We always say that if something is too good to be true, it usually is.
“As well as all the usual stuff to watch out for, people should be particularly careful around things like facemasks and hand sanitisers. At best these will be a waste of money and at worst won’t protect you properly.
“Anyone who buys counterfeit goods will land themselves with poor quality and possibly dangerous goods while helping line criminal’s pockets. We want to protect the public and legitimate business and we will continue to target counterfeiters.”
People can report counterfeit goods by calling the anonymous Staffordshire Fight the Fakes line on 01785 330356.
Some of the hidden dangers of counterfeit goods include:
*Counterfeit alcohol contains dangerous chemicals which can cause many health problems such as blindness
*Counterfeit perfume can often burn skin or leave a nasty rash and may contain lead
*Fake sunglasses often offer no UVA protection, causing eye damage
Fake tobacco often contains unknown chemicals
*Counterfeit children's toys can often be unsafe with unsuitable small parts and children's clothes may be inflammable.