Amazon Removes Billions of Phony Listings — How to Spot Counterfeit Items From Third-Party Sellers

woman shopping on amazon
Kaspars Grinvalds /

Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) may be a go-to retailer because of its convenience, huge selection and low prices, but it has problems. One of the biggest problems from a consumer perspective is the number of sketchy and counterfeit products on the site. Sifting through listings can be a challenge.

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Yesterday, Amazon released its first report on its anti-counterfeiting activities, MarketWatch reported. The company launched new tools to address the issue in 2019. And they worked; in 2020, more than 10 billion suspected listings were blocked from the site — an increase of 67% from 2019.

Some listings got through the blockers, and Amazon destroyed 2 million counterfeit items sent to its warehouses before they could be sold. As a result, fewer than 0.01% of customers filed a complaint about receiving a counterfeit item.

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Customers may not know or care that an item is counterfeit, but manufacturers and brands sure do. They will be less likely to sell through Amazon if they have to compete with fake versions of their own products. As Walmart (NYSE: WMT) and Target (NYSE: TGT) expand their web sites, Amazon is vulnerable.

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While Amazon prices tend to be low, consumers need to remember that a deal that seems too good to be true probably is. You might not care if a pair of socks is counterfeit, but the real thing matters if you are buying medication or a critical machine part. If you find a retailer offering a price much lower than Amazon, Walmart or Target, you should be concerned.

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About the Author

Ann Logue is a writer specializing in business and finance. Her most recent book is The Complete Idiot’s Guide: Options Trading (Alpha 2016). She lives in Chicago.
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