All around the world, millions are gearing up and tuning in forthe 2014 Winter Olympic Games inSochi, Russia. The games began on February 07 and kids will watch and dream ofbeing an Olympian when they’re older. The majority of us will watch, amazed bythe athleticism displayed, and root for our home teams.
But, beware of scams! Official Olympic merchandise isavailable through a number of sources, but counterfeit goods and outright scamsare everywhere. A recent searchon eBay showed 5,693 items for “Sochi 2014.” Many were authentic re-sales, butsome were fraudulent. The most impressive item was the “Olympic Torch Sochi2014.” Yours for just $7,000!
Consumers should familiarize themselves with Olympic logos,graphics and branding, and consider shopping directly with the official websiteof the 2014 Sochi Olympics. To be certain you are getting official Olympicmerchandise, follow these easy steps:
· Go to theofficial Olympic website (sochi2014.com).If it opens in French or Russian, click on the small “EN” on the left side toswitch to English.
· Click on theword “Shop” on the top left side of the home page.
If you want to check out a product found elsewhere, or reportcounterfeit merchandise, hover over the little plus sign in the upper rightcorner and click on “Authentication.”
If you want to buy U.S. or Canadian team merchandise, go tothese official sites:
· Team USA – teamusa.org
· Team Canada – olympic.ca
BBB reminds shoppers that most “collectible” merchandise ismanufactured in large quantities and rarely rises in value. If you want topurchase a “limited edition” memento, check to see just how limited it isbefore making a decision.
Watching Live in Sochi?
Feeling impetuous and thinking about going toSochi? BBB warns that travel packages and ticket packages can easily befraudulent or at least not what you expect. The official site for purchasingtickets is tickets.sochi2014.com, whichincludes authorized tickets sold between fans (click on “Fan2Fan”).
The Sochi Olympic Committee is taking it one stepfurther with this warning:
“If you plan to purchase tickets on a website other thantickets.sochi2014.com, we strongly recommend you verify the website isauthorized to sell tickets before you purchase tickets. Tickets purchased fromsources other than tickets.sochi2014.com may not be valid and you may berefused entry to the venue.”
If you makethe trip to Sochi, then be an educated consumer. Be on the lookout for pricesthat seem too good to be true. Deal with reputable companies, such as, travelagencies, hotels, car rental companies, etc. Start your search for companiesyou can trust at bbb.org. Also,read reviews and scope out their social media accounts. Make sure you aredealing with an established, well-regarded business.
Be sure to confirm all reservations for hotels, rental carsor other arrangements in advance and bring confirmation numbers with you. Don’tsign any written agreement before you have read and clearly understood everyitem. If you’ve been told anything verbally that is not included in theagreement, refuse to sign until it has been added.
Make purchases with a credit card. Consumersshould always purchase items with a credit card if they are shopping online. Ifthe seller turns out to be fraudulent, then the consumer can dispute the chargewith the credit card company and may be eligible for reimbursement.
Be cautious of phishing email scams. Scammersdon’t take a break just for the Olympics! If you receive any unfamiliar orunsolicited email, don’t open any attachments or click on any links. Doing socould put malware on your computer and compromise your personal and financialinformation.
Make and stick to a budget. Going to theOlympics may be a once in a lifetime event but don’t go overboard. Plan aheadand stay tight to your budget. If you need help with debt, check out bbb.org/debt. You’ll find great information onbudgeting and debt reduction.