Small business e-tailers take note: Make sure your website isn't selling counterfeit goods, or it could get seized by the feds in a Cyber Monday crackdown.
The Justice Department announced Monday it's seized 150 websites that investigators say were hawking fake name-brand goods. Seized domain names include pumaoutlets.net, myjerseyshop.com, and uggbootsclearanceoutletstores.com, Reuters reports.
Shutting down the sites is relatively easy, but prosecuting the counterfeit sellers will be more difficult. That's because the sellers are typically located overseas, mostly in China, according to Reuters.
The Cyber Monday counterfeit crackdown is part of a federal enforcement program called "Operation In Our Sites."
The operation turns federal agents into covert cybershoppers, according to Reuters. If a product purchased from a website is deemed to be counterfeit, a federal court can issue a warrant for agents to seize the site's domain name. The site's owner can dispute the charge in court.
Last year, "Operation In Our Sites" shut down 82 websites on Cyber Monday, the Justice Department says.
For consumers still interested in taking advantage of Cyber Monday shopping deals -- many of which are set to last all week or longer -- PC World magazine recommends the following tips:
- Don't click on email links. They could be phony and link you to online scammers.
- Don't buy into ridiculously deep discounts. They could be tell-tale signs of a scam.
- Spend securely. Make sure you only pass on credit card information via a web page that uses SSL (secure sockets layer) security.
- Use credit cards when shopping online. Federal laws allow you to contest items on your credit card bill if you don't receive them, and some credit card companies limit your liability if your credit card number is stolen.
- Tune up your software. Make sure your operating system and antivirus software are up to date.