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Keep an eye out for counterfeit software this Christmas

Media Release 22 December 2010

Keep an eye out for counterfeit software this Christmas

New worldwide survey shows 80 percent of consumers are concerned about the risks of using counterfeit software.

Counterfeit software is becoming an increasingly common problem in New Zealand, with consumers being duped into buying fake versions of popular software and games. It is important that buyers know what they need to look out for when purchasing software in store and online - particularly in the lead up to Christmas!

A recent survey commissioned by Microsoft provides clear evidence that consumers are becoming more conscious of the risks of using counterfeit software, with one in three people believing it is not as safe as using genuine software. Counterfeit software is appearing in the market with similar prices and packaging to the real deal - making it difficult for people to spot the difference.

The best way to avoid this pitfall and ensure you buy genuine Microsoft software is to follow the Microsoft "Buyer's Checklist" as outlined below.

According to the data, 80 percent of the 38,000 consumers polled worldwide have a range of concerns about the risks of using counterfeit software. Data loss and identity theft topped the list, and 70 percent said they believe genuine software is more secure, more stable and easier to keep up-to-date than counterfeit versions.

Mark Rees, National Technology Officer for Microsoft New Zealand, says piracy is now a huge concern when purchasing software.

"Consumers throughout New Zealand are increasingly coming to us with complaints about counterfeit software and asking what they can do to protect themselves. There are more people getting caught out, and as more sophisticated counterfeiting technology becomes available, the harder it becomes to spot a fake. Our aim is to protect Kiwis, especially during the Christmas period when people are buying gifts for family and friends."

The presence of high-quality fakes in the market today makes distinguishing counterfeit from genuine a continuing challenge for consumers. The majority of those polled would choose genuine software given the choice, and more than two-thirds believe that buyers have to be on the lookout or they could mistakenly buy counterfeit software.

The data confirms what has become a recurring theme in complaints submitted through Microsoft's How to Tell website. More than 300,000 consumers have come forward through the site since 2005, offering details about fake software that left their computers infected with viruses and malware, or that simply didn't work as advertised.

Chris Budge, Trade Me's Trust and Safety Manager, says Trade Me has zero tolerance for counterfeit goods and works closely with rights-holders.

"We acknowledge that the sale of counterfeit goods is a problem worldwide. Here in New Zealand we are actively working towards eliminating them from Trade Me, and minimising the risk of illegitimate products getting into the hands of innocent buyers. We have very good working relationships with hundreds of brands, including Microsoft, as we seek to help stop the sale of counterfeit software."

He says traders should keep an eye out for anything that looks fishy. "If a Trade Me member is suspicious of the origins of any software, they should hit the 'Community Watch' link that appears at the bottom of every listing on the site to let us know. We will then have a look and, if necessary, remove the listing."

Focusing on what it calls the "three Es" - Education, Engineering and Enforcement - Microsoft makes a significant investment each year into educational resources to help consumers protect themselves, new technologies that make counterfeiting software more difficult, and Microsoft takes legal action against traders who sell counterfeits.

When purchasing software follow the 'Buyer's Checklist' to ensure your software is genuine.

1. Are you buying from a known and reputable retailer/seller?

Buy from a retailer or seller you know and trust.

2. Is the software you are looking to purchase much cheaper than from other retailers?

The general rule of thumb is proven time and time again - if it seems too good to be true it usually is.

3. Are you able to contact the seller after you receive the software?

Be wary if the seller is reluctant or won't provide a phone number, address and other pertinent contact details.

4. Does the seller have satisfied and happy customers?

When buying online, always look for feedback from other customers. If there is negative feedback, steer clear.

5. What is the seller's return policy?

Make sure there is a way to return the product, and make sure that you feel confident that your seller will be willing and able to help you with after-sales service if there is a problem with your product.

6. When buying online, are the photos in the advertisement of the actual software being sold?

Be wary of stock standard marketing photos that may not be of the actual software you are buying.

7. Can you physically check the product?

If you can, check the product thoroughly before you purchase it. Use the How to Tell website to help you tell if it is legitimate software. Always be wary of sellers who are reluctant to let you view the product.

8. Are you purchasing the correct license?

For example, if you use academic software and you are not a student, lecturer or teacher, you are in breach of the license.

9. Does the software have a genuine Certificate of Authenticity?

A Certificate of Authenticity is a label that helps you identify genuine software. This is a visual identifier that helps determine whether or not the software you are buying is genuine. Check the Microsoft how to tell website to be able to tell the difference between genuine and fake Certificates of Authenticity.

Kiwis can also report sellers of counterfeit Microsoft products by email or by going to this website and submitting an online report.


© Scoop Media

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