All around the world, millions are gearing up for the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia, beginning February 7. Kids will watch and dream of being an Olympian when they’re older. The majority of us will watch, amazed by the athleticism displayed, and root for our home teams.
But, beware of scams! Official Olympic merchandise is available through a number of sources, but counterfeit goods and outright scams are everywhere. A recent search on eBay showed 5,693 items for “Sochi 2014.” Many were authentic re-sales, but some were fraudulent. The most impressive item was the “Olympic Torch Sochi 2014.” Yours for just $7,000!
Consumers should familiarize themselves with Olympic logos, graphics and branding, and consider shopping directly with the official website of the 2014 Sochi Olympics. To be certain you are getting official Olympic merchandise, follow these easy steps:
· Go to the official Olympic website (sochi2014.com). If it opens in French or Russian, click on the small “EN” on the left side to switch to English.
· Click on the word “Shop” on the top left side of the home page.
· Start shopping!
If you want to check out a product found elsewhere, or report counterfeit merchandise, hover over the little plus sign in the upper right corner and click on “Authentication.”
If you want to buy U.S. or Canadian team merchandise, go to these official sites:
· Team USA – teamusa.org
· Team Canada – olympic.ca
BBB reminds shoppers that most “collectible” merchandise is manufactured in large quantities and rarely rises in value. If you want to purchase a “limited edition” memento, check to see just how limited it is before making a decision.
Going to Sochi?
Feeling impetuous and thinking about going to Sochi? BBB warns that travel packages and ticket packages can easily be fraudulent or at least not what you expect. The official site for purchasing tickets is tickets.sochi2014.com, which includes authorized tickets sold between fans (click on “Fan2Fan”).
The Sochi Olympic Committee is taking it one step further with this warning:
“If you plan to purchase tickets on a website other than tickets.sochi2014.com, we strongly recommend you verify the website is authorized to sell tickets before you purchase tickets. Tickets purchased from sources other than tickets.sochi2014.com may not be valid and you may be refused entry to the venue.”
If you are planning to make the trip to Sochi, then be an educated consumer. Be on the lookout for prices that seem too good to be true. Deal with reputable companies, such as, travel agencies, hotels, car rental companies, etc. Start your search for companies you can trust at bbb.org. Also, read reviews and scope out their social media accounts. Make sure you are dealing with an established, well-regarded business.
Be sure to confirm all reservations for hotels, rental cars or other arrangements in advance and bring confirmation numbers with you. Don’t sign any written agreement before you have read and clearly understood every item. If you’ve been told anything verbally that is not included in the agreement, refuse to sign until it has been added.
Make purchases with a credit card. Consumers should always purchase items with a credit card if they are shopping online. If the seller turns out to be fraudulent, then the consumer can dispute the charge with the credit card company and may be eligible for reimbursement.
Be cautious of phishing email scams. Scammers don’t take a break just for the Olympics! If you receive any unfamiliar or unsolicited email, don’t open any attachments or click on any links. Doing so could put malware on your computer and compromise your personal and financial information.
Make and stick to a budget. Going to the Olympics may be a once in a lifetime event but don’t go overboard. Plan ahead and stay tight to your budget. If you need help with debt, check out bbb.org/debt. You’ll find great information on budgeting and debt reduction.