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It’s the first day of December, which means the unofficial start of counterfeit season has begun.

As hordes of eager shoppers flood malls looking for door-crasher deals, the criminal underworld is similarly attempting to flood those same malls with knockoff products. The worst part is, those crooks are starting to get pretty good at what they do, which is why we’re here to help you differentiate between the authentic and the fake. Because we all know in the scramble of holiday shopping, it can be easy to overlook some small details that can make a big difference.

  • For starters, you want to look for subtle spelling mistakes on the box. If the company name contains errors (Re: LEGO vs. LEGGO), put it back on the shelf. Sometimes the font and packaging counterfeiters use will seem like a perfect match, right up until you notice “Star Wals” (meant to mimic “Star Wars”) plastered on the front.
  • Missing trademark or copyright notices is another big one.
  • Packages usually contain contact information for the company/manufacturer. If you can’t find this information, the product may be a fake
  • Don’t buy toys at unusual stores. If you’re getting a sketchy vibe, trust your gut and leave

It may not seem like something you’d fall for, but according to Anti-Counterfeiting Lawyer Lorne Lipkus, there’s an estimated $20-30 billion worth of counterfeit products in Canada right now, with a large portion of them being toys. Someone must be buying them.

Getting ripped off isn’t even the worst part, either. Counterfeit toys can pose health hazards to children. There have been cases where knockoff toys have been coated in lead-based paint, or other cases where the toys break apart easily, exposing sharp edges within.

For more information about how you can keep yourself protected this holiday season, check out the video above.