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BBB warns football fans: “More fake websites selling counterfeit merchandise”

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MILWAUKEE — The Better Business Bureau Serving Wisconsin (BBB) is warning fans to beware of lookalike or suspicious websites when ordering sports apparel or other merchandise online.

Devoted fans flock to the internet to find branded gear and it follows that counterfeiters and ID thieves will be aware of the demand, too. They can easily take advantage of online customers looking for a great deal on their favorite player’s jersey.

“This is an opportune time for scammers as Super Bowl LI nears,” says Jim Temmer, president/CEO of the BBB Serving Wisconsin. “Swindlers will take advantage of a chance to swipe your credit and debit card information or steal your identity and each year we see more and more fake websites selling counterfeit merchandise being reported.”

The BBB offers the following tips:

  • Watch out for too-good-to-be-true pricing. Fake websites advertise cheap prices as a way to attract and encourage consumers to purchase their products and provide sensitive information. In many of these cases, either the items do not exist or they are counterfeit and of poor quality. If the price is much lower than elsewhere, it’s probably fake. Also, genuine merchandise is tagged with holograms. Fakes are not.
  • Look for contact information.  Does the business list its physical address, phone number and email address? Does the physical address match the business address? If no contact information or verifiable business information is listed, it’s a red flag. Make sure you read the terms and conditions of sale carefully before placing an order.
  • Know the seller. Research the company if you’ve never made a purchase on the website before. Check out the company on, conduct a Google search on the website name and look at the the URL and registrant information. If the website is claiming to be an official site authorized to sell licensed products, confirm this directly with the team, league or source it is claiming to be authorized by.
  • Learn to spot a fake site. Make sure that the team names, URL address and information on the site don’t have misspellings or grammatical errors – definitely signs of foreign counterfeiting attempts. Do a search online to see if anyone reported the site to the BBB’s Scam Tracker. Call the customer service number to make sure that someone answers before you pay. Ask them to tell you more about the company. Also, ask the representative about refunds and exchanges.
  • Check website security. Before making an online purchase, check the URL of the page you’re entering contact and financial information on. If the URL doesn’t start with “https” your information could be exposed to con artists or hackers. A security enabled web page will begin with “https,” instead of just “http” and will likely have a lock symbol that displays as green to verify security. Always pay by credit card whenever possible in case you need to challenge the charge later. Install a firewall, anti-virus and anti-spyware software. Check for and install the latest updates and run virus scans regularly on your computer, tablet and smartphone.

For more information or further inquiries, contact the Wisconsin BBB at or 414-847-6000 (metro Milwaukee), 920-734-4352 (Appleton), 608-268-2221 (Madison) or 1-800-273-1002 (elsewhere in Wisconsin).

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