Friends, Black Friday and Cyber Monday are the ideal time to get great deals on products, however, shopping for "bargain" items could lead to consumers buying counterfeit versions of trusted brands.

Each year, thousands of people are victims of counterfeit products, which can include unsafe items such as electronic toys, household appliances, power tools, consumer electronics and other gifts that may present a shock or fire hazard.

CSA International, a leader in certification, testing and anti-counterfeiting, advises consumers to be familiar with the signs that may indicate a counterfeit product:

Friends, Black Friday and Cyber Monday are the ideal time to get great deals on products, however, shopping for “bargain” items could lead to consumers buying counterfeit versions of trusted brands.

Each year, thousands of people are victims of counterfeit products, which can include unsafe items such as electronic toys, household appliances, power tools, consumer electronics and other gifts that may present a shock or fire hazard.

CSA International, a leader in certification, testing and anti-counterfeiting, advises consumers to be familiar with the signs that may indicate a counterfeit product:

*Avoid electrical products that are missing a label from an accredited certification organization such as CSA International.

*Counterfeit packaging often has an inferior design or partial illustrations. Look for misspellings and unclear print on products and labels.

*Check for a discrepancy between the contents of the product package and its description. When a product doesn’t include a brand identifier or trademark, it may be a fake. Look for missing return addresses or company contact information.

*Check the “look and feel” of products. Fakes are often light and flimsy. Buy only from reputable stores with clearly stated return policies.

When bidding for items on eBay or other auctioning sites, take precautions when placing an order. You do not want to be duped into buying a dud. Ask as many questions as you can. For now, happy Thanksgiving and happy shopping!

Laurie, TheBag Lady