BBB warns of counterfeit Olympic merchandise

Stuffed White Bear mascots. Official T-shirts. Even an inscribed food bowl for Fido.

With the start of the Winter Olympics in Sochi only hours away, enthusiasts are expected to flock to stores and online sites over the next few weeks to purchase all manner of officially licensed Olympic paraphernalia.

SOC_Olympic logoRGBAnd, unbeknownst to them, counterfeit Olympic merchandise being hawked by scam artists looking to make an easy buck.

That’s why the Council of Better Business Bureaus issued a warning earlier this week, cautioning consumers to be extremely careful when purchasing Olympic-themed items.

The BBB says the safest way to avoid ending up with fake goods is to restrict your shopping to official websites, such as sochi2014.com or teamusa.org.

But if you insist on seeking bargains elsewhere — a search on eBay for “Sochi 2014,” for example, turned up more than 22,000 listings Thursday — the BBB advises that you become extremely familiar with the official Olympic logos, graphics and branding.

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Among the BBB’s other tips:

— Be wary of purchasing “collectible”  or “limited edition” merchandise. In many cases, they aren’t that “limited” and therefore unlikely to rise in value.

— Always use a credit card to make purchases, so you have an opportunity to contest the charges if your purchase turns out to be a fake.

— Resist the urge to click on unfamiliar links or download attachments in unsolicited Olympic-related emails, which can infect your computer with malware and put your personal information at risk.

Click here to read the BBB’s full warning.

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