Seventy-five per cent of Canadians will shop online this holiday season, but nearly half are concerned about mistakenly buying counterfeit goods like toys, clothing, video games and software. Microsoft Canada Co. captured Canadians’ views on counterfeiting in a national survey conducted by The Strategic Counsel, and found that 40 per cent of consumers are not confident they know how to ensure they are buying genuine software.*

Alongside the explosive growth of the Internet has been a surge in the number of counterfeit goods available online. Today counterfeiters have a global reach and peddle their wares to unassuming consumers through online auction sites, web sites and spam. The anonymity afforded by the web allows counterfeiters to operate with little chance of detection while the risks to consumers are high.

Canadian mother and accounting student, Krista Prong, said she purchased Microsoft Office Professional 2007 via eBay to help her family and herself with school projects.

“I really did my homework and knew the version and price of what I was looking for,” she said. “The product looked legitimate when I received it and the seller had a good track record, but upon installing it, I realized I had been sold a high quality counterfeit package. I thought I was out of luck, but after a call to Microsoft’s 1-800-R-U-LEGIT hotline, Microsoft helped replace the software.”

“Consumers need to be vigilant when shopping online and in the store. That is why we provide resources like the website and other tools that help consumers buy smart,” said Christopher Tortorice, Corporate Counsel, Anti-Piracy, Microsoft Canada Co. “Software piracy and counterfeiting is a complex, global problem, and we are committed to working with the Canadian government, the RCMP, local law enforcement agencies, and customers and technology partner communities to stay one step ahead of this illegal industry.”

“Increasingly, highly sophisticated and organized networks are engaging in the global trade of counterfeit software and other pirated goods. We must continue to focus on effective public and private sector collaboration to unite in the fight against product counterfeiting and copyright piracy in Canada,” said Insp. Peter Goulet, Officer in Charge, RCMP GTA Federal Enforcement Section. “The RCMP is committed to working with organizations like Microsoft Canada to help protect consumers.”

A few tips to help consumers avoid buying counterfeit products this holiday season include:

1. Understand what you are buying – take time to learn more about the products that you are buying and from whom you are buying. Read reviews and talk to colleagues and retailers so that you build a knowledgeable perspective.

2. Check the prices – if the price seems too good to be true then it probably is.

3. Look for spelling mistakes on the package or a shoddy appearance.

4. For software products, make sure they are licensed. It is standard that every legal piece of software includes a developer’s license agreement. This applies whether you are buying software for use on one machine, software to be networked across a number of machines or software that’s preloaded as part of a system.

5. If you are unsure if a product is legitimate — call the manufacturer.