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9 Tips - How to Avoid Fake Items on Ebay - How to Identify Genuine Products

Are there fake items on eBay?

With millions of genuine items for sale on eBay at any one time worldwide, there will also unfortunately be those that are not. Fake or replica items on eBay are prevalent in almost every category.

Whilst eBay has techniques to identify and remove fake and replica items (95% success rate), it is clear that some will and do slip through the cracks. eBay also has a policy where individual users can report what are suspected or knowingly suspicious items for further investigation. eBay reports that more than 18,000 companies worldwide have joined their Verified Rights Owner Program (VeRO) which was set up in 1988 to protect intellectual property.

Don't let the nasties stop you searching for and buying what could be the bargain of the century. Buying designer products on eBay can be safe, can be done and can be done without concern.

How to avoid buying fake items on ebay. Your essential guide.

How to avoid buying fake items on ebay. Your essential guide.

Buy Genuine Louis Vuitton, Prada and Tiffany on eBay

Take a moment to sit and read through the 9 tips I have offered you below. As an eBay Trading Assistant myself, I have had the pleasure of selling many stunning designer products including handbags, shoes and sunglasses over the years. Louis Vuitton, Prada, Tiffany and Rolex, just to name a few. I understand the concerns buyers have. I have been asked many questions myself to ensure authenticity. I have experience in this field.

These tips I offer are your essential guide to bidding and buying off eBay with greater confidence than ever before.

Common eBay Categories Where Fake Items Exist

Whilst fake or replica items are sprinkled all through eBay, there are some categories that are more 'popular' than others and therefore require greater attention.

  • Designer Products - clothing, shoes, accessories
  • Entertainment - DVDs, Movies, Music
  • Computers - Software
  • Collectables - Figurines, Antiques, Art, Glassware and more

How to identify fake items on eBay

Step 1: Read Descriptions Carefully

  • Look for words such as '...similar to...' or '' or even '...similar to...'.
  • Words such as 'copy', 'reproduction', 'replica' or ' look-alike' are your cue to walk away.

Step 2: Photographs

  • Blurry photographs are an instant giveaway for you to walk away.
  • If photographs provided are catalogue images or appear to be taken from a website, contact the seller for 'real-life' photographs of the exact item you are buying.
  • Genuine buyers tend to provide multiple photographs showing intricate details - stitching, tags, certificates of authentification, labels, colours, any signs of wear and tear or flaws and more.

Step 3: Look for manufacture or trademark details

  • Look out for a marker's mark or hallmark if you are shopping for silver, precious metals, china or porcelain. Particularly if it is a valuable piece you have spotted.
  • Collectable dolls, action figurines and even diecast cars will have an imprint of some sort providing you an indication of the era or year of manufacture or trademark or even model.

How to spot a fake Prada

Your essential guide to buying genuine Prada!

How to spot a fake Prada

How to spot a fake Prada


If you do decide to go ahead purchase, never pay cash!

As much as people try to avoid using PayPal due to the commission fees taken per sale, it is one of the safest ways to transact. If there ends up being a problem or concern with any item you purchase, PayPal provide a tracking and trace mechanism. It is the trustworthy option that I recommend.

PayPal Buyer Protection within 45 days of your payment.

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Step 4: Compare to other products on eBay and online

  • Spend some time on the internet reviewing your product of interest. In particular become very familiar with the features of the item from the manufacturer's website.
  • Search eBay for all listings, current and completed, to see if there are any key differences to the one you are looking at.

Step 5: Price

  • A genuine Louis Vuitton Handbag, for example, will never have an auction price commencing at $0.99c, no matter how desperate the owner is to part with it.

Step 6: Check Feedback

  • Feedback linked to each eBay user (buyer or seller) is a key indication of their reputation.
  • The higher the number, the greater the volume of items they have bought and sold. By clicking on the feedback score which you will find next to their name, you will see the number of positive, neutral and negative feedback given to them in the last month, up to 12 months ago.
  • If you see red negative reviews being given, take heed. Drill down further and read the specific feedback comments provided. It could mean others have been scammed and you are being warned to stay away.

Step 7: Ask Questions

  • Ask the seller any questions you have about the item, ask for additional photographs if you want to see specific features. If they do not reply, or a reluctant to assist, again this is a key sign to steer clear.

Step 8: Return Policy

  • Check the terms and conditions provided by the seller in regards to their returns policy. A policy of no returns is a good sign of a product that is not genuine.

Step 9: Follow your instincts

  • If you still feel something is not right, no matter how small, walk away.
  • If you find you are hesitating your instincts have kicked in and you can walk away knowing that you have not been taken for a ride.

Your Experience

Safety Tip

Don't agree to sales on items outside of eBay unless you know and trust the seller!

Hot Tip

eBay have an online chat service available. Take advantage of it if you want instant advice. This way you can have it on record too.

Verify that your item is definitely a fake or replica.

Unless something is truly obvious, making this verification unnecessary, my best advice here is to seek out an expert.

  • Search for your item on the internet and compare photographs.
  • Take your sunglasses, or what ever item it is you have purchased to a brand name shop, or try contacting the manufacturer via their website, or give them a call via a customer service number.
  • Maybe you know someone who has the same brand name item and you can get a second opinion from.
  • Even if you cannot verify, don't give up.

Immediately contact the seller.

  • Send the seller on eBay an email - eBay keep a track of all correspondence so this will be in your favour too.
  • Your first instinct will be to send them a rude email, and rightly so, but just sit on it for a minute.
  • Keep all postbags / boxes or packaging materials and take photographs yourself of the item because if/when the time comes to post it back you will have proof.
  • Sit tight and await a reply.
  • It is also a good idea to send an email to eBay too, quoting the item number and item title, and advise them of the actions you have taken.

If the seller replies, offering a full refund, return it with registered post

What to do if you become a victim?

You have done your best to verify the gorgeous pair of sunglasses that you have had your eye on for months. You followed all the hints and tips you could find, you asked all the questions you could possibly have thought of and yet when your parcel from eBay arrives in the mail, you instantly realise something is wrong. The sunglasses feel cheap, they are cheap, they are not genuine.

You get that feeling in the pit of your stomach. You feel sick, angry and a fool all at once. Now what?

It is standard procedure with sellers that refunds will not be given until the item is received in return mail. With registered and tracking on the item you have protection. Remember also to seek the 'ok' from PayPal and eBay before returning the item. This ensures everyone is on the same page.

If the seller does not reply, or replies refusing to accept a refund, send one further email. Slightly more blunt. Again this will be tracked via eBay as long as the email is sent from your eBay account, from within eBay itself.

Send a second email.

  • Give them the benefit of the doubt one last time (even though you will not like to be doing so).

Register a complaint with eBay

  • If you still have no luck coming to any agreement with the seller, it is time to register a complaint stating that the item received 'did not match the seller's description'. The seller has 7 days to respond. In no reply has been received at that point, contact eBay customer service regarding eBay's buyer protection.

If you paid by PayPal

  • Contact PayPal to register for the PayPal Buyer Protection within 45 days.

How to find misspelled items on eBay

How to find misspelled items on eBay

Now you have the knowledge, lets go shopping. Finding Misspelled eBay Listings for Bargains!

Just before you go...

  • Research Research Research
  • Review the many guides on eBay written by respected members for specific brand name products
  • Ask as many questions as you need
  • Pay with PayPal for added security

All Hubs are Original Material by 'Work At Home Mums' ©

Some key reading for eBay Success

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2012 WorkAtHomeMums


Susannah Birch from Toowoomba, Australia on March 24, 2012:

Thanks for the info! Will definitely keep it in mind next time I buy online. I've had items before that didn't meet the description or photos.

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