BBB Serving North Central Texas is currently investigating numerous online retail websites that appear to be selling counterfeit NCAA, MLB, NBA, NFL, and NHL merchandise. BBB warns the public to also beware when shopping online. Providing payment information to a fraudulent website could result in ID theft and stolen funds.
In December 2016, particularly as basketball, football, and hockey seasons progressed, BBB Serving North Central Texas received telephone calls from the public suggesting that websites may be selling counterfeit sports paraphernalia, branded with popular teams’ trademarks. At the same time, BBB staff received similar reports on BBB Scam Tracker, an interactive website that allows the public to research and report fraud.
Accordingly, BBB’s Director of Investigations, has identified 65 sites that appear to be selling counterfeit merchandise. BBB notified the professional sports leagues impacted by the sites about the potential misuse of trademarks. Representatives from some of these leagues have expressed interest in cooperating with BBB to verify the authenticity of the products and websites. The NCAA has already verified that 5 of the sites that BBB identified are not authorized to sell trademarked merchandise.
One consumer told BBB via Scam Tracker, “I ordered a Cowboys jersey on 12/20/16 for a late Christmas gift and I never received the shipping/tracking information or my actual order.” She continued to state, “I have made several attempts to contact the online retailer via emails requesting status of my order and as of today 1/1/17, no one has responded to me. The money ($79.95) has been deducted from my card.”
“With the end of the professional basketball season and with March Madness, BBB knows that devoted fans will be flocking to the internet to find branded gear,” said Monica Horton, President and Spokesperson for BBB Serving North Central Texas - Wichita Falls Branch. “It follows that counterfeiters and ID thieves will be aware of the demand too. They can easily take advantage of online customers looking for a great deal on their favorite jersey.”
Although NBA merchandise has been the subject of reports on BBB Scam Tracker locally, BBB notes that this phenomenon affects almost every professional team. Also, several of the official retail operations for professional sports teams, including Dallas Cowboys Pro Shops LLC, are BBB Accredited Businesses. Accredited Businesses, have agreed to uphold BBB standards for trust. This means that, unlike fraudsters, these businesses have promised to work with customers to resolve disputes and safeguard privacy.
Notwithstanding the risk of ID theft, deciding to wear a counterfeit jersey or buy from a counterfeit site may also have harmful and unintended consequences. It is important to note that some of the proceeds from the sale of authentic merchandise funds scholarships, charities, and youth programs. You may be unwittingly hurting these programs. Furthermore, the quality of counterfeit merchandise may be a drawback as well. Many of the laws that protect consumers from harmful chemicals and toxic substances in fabrics are ignored by counterfeiters, nor do they offer standard warranties to protect buyers that are harmed or unsatisfied.
BBB advises consumers to take caution when shopping for favorite team gear this season. BBB Serving North Central Texas offers the following tips to protect consumers.
Tips for Identifying “Spoofed” Websites:
Learn to spot a fake site. Make sure that the team names and the URL address don’t have misspellings. Do a search online to see if anyone has reported the site on BBB Scam Tracker or online generally.
Know how to find the business. Always look for contact information and a physical location on any shopping website. If the physical address of the business is not visible on the site, this is a red flag.
Touch base with the business. Call the customer service number to make sure that someone answers before you pay. Ask them to tell you more about the company. Also, ask the representative about refunds and exchanges.
Tips for Preventing ID Theft:
Check your blind side. If you’ve ordered from one of these fan sites recently, regularly check your bank statements for unauthorized charges.
Play defense. Call your bank, explain what’s happened, and notify them to watch for fraudulent charges so that they can immediately be blocked.
Check with coach. If you believe you’ve been a victim. Ask quickly, by visiting idtheft.gov. The FTC will develop a customized recovery plan to help protect you from ID Theft. Also, notify BBB by emailing us at email@example.com or visiting scamtracker.bbb.org, so that BBB can warn others.
ABOUT BBB: For more than 96 years, Better Business Bureau Serving North Central Texas has been helping people throughout the Dallas and Wichita Falls areas find businesses and brands they can trust. Our two offices serve over 6,800 accredited business in nearly 30 counties. In 2015, people turned to BBB | NCTX nearly 10 million times for BBB Business Profiles on North Central Texas businesses, information about advertising and trade practice investigations, to request a quote for service, dispute resolution services and more. For more information visit www.bbb.org/north-central-texas.