The use of RFID technology in anti-counterfeiting

Every year, industries lose millions of dollars due to counterfeiting. Due to the growing threat of duplication, companies whether big or small have incorporated different kinds of anti-counterfeiting technologies with their products. The anti-duplication technologies include security holograms, security labels, track and trace, barcodes, QR codes, RFID (Radio Frequency Identification), blockchain, artificial intelligence etc.

Out of the above-mentioned technologies RFID has become quite popular and is being currently used in different industries to secure not just products but entire supply chains. RFID basically includes the use of a microchip containing a unique information. This unique information is used for the authentication process and secures the product from any kind of duplication.

RFID has been successfully amalgamated with track and trace technology and is working wonders in battling duplication the across the world. According to a report by Strategy MRC, “RFID technology is used extensively in the packaging industry that includes tags, readers, and software services. Moreover, RFID technology is growing tremendously and is opted by many industries as it reduces manual costs and improves visibility and planning.”

What is RFID?

RFID which stands for radio frequency identification is a technology in which an encoded data is embedded in an RFID tag or a high-tech label. The encoded data is captured by a reader via radio waves. RFID system consists of three parts which includes a RFID tag, an antenna and a RFID reader.

The RFID tag or smart label sends an encoded message through the antenna which is captured by the RFID reader. The reader converts the radio waves into useful data which is used by a computer system. The computer system then creates a database which can be further used according to the requirements of an organization.

RFID tags can be classified into two forms, the first one is known as active RFID tag while the second one is known as passive RFID tag. Unlike, active RFID tags which run on their own power source like a battery, passive RFID tags are powered by a RFID reader.

Advantages of RFID

Here are some factors due to which RFID technology has occupied a good market share in the anti-counterfeiting technology market.

1. RFID technology can collect information without the need for human resource.

2.RFID requires no line of sight for authentication and thus saves a lot of time.

3.Last but not the least, RFID systems are highly accurate.

ritesh-rupramka-holostik

By Ritesh Rupramka
Director, Production & IT
Holostik

How to spot counterfeit whisky?

According to media reports, imported liquor has witnessed a rise of 20 % annually. This has led to the counterfeiting of liquor on a large scale across the country. Liquor counterfeiters are easily selling adulterated bottles of liquor at different locations in the country. They have also resorted to filling empty bottles of expensive wines and whisky with IMFL (Indian Manufactured Foreign Liquor).

Fake whisky is troublesome for whisky aficionados and manufacturers. It dupes the consumer since its overpriced, ruins their health and damages the brand image of the liquor manufacturers. However, there are certain ways through which you can identify the genuineness of whisky. Let’s discuss some of them.

1.Always try to do a strip search: Forgers usually try to place a tax strip from an old wine bottle to cover up a refill. Always try to feel around the neck for sticky patches which could indicate the presence of an original strip.

2.Fill level could be a big giveaway: The condition of the whisky can be ascertained by the fill level. Some whisky bottles are just filled to the shoulder. It is also a fact that the air space in the bottle can increase with time. Always be suspicious of old whisky bottles with high fill levels.

3.Check the label with a magnifying glass: A home-printed label or packaging will show pixelation when viewed from a magnifying glass. This is an obvious red flag for the product to be a fake.

4.Go through the minute content information: Yes, wrong spellings could be a big sign of fake or counterfeits. Grammatical mistakes, misplaced words or even a faulty punctuation are red signs. Obviously, counterfeiters are not language experts.

5.Look for sediments in the bottle: Old vintage whisky will always have a layer of the sediment at the bottom, particularly those matured in casks. If there is an absence of sediment, then it could be a sign of a counterfeit.

6.Crosscheck attributes of the cap and neck: Try to match the colour, material, ridges and material of the cap with original website. Also, check that the seal or base ring of the cap has been broken or not.

7.Beading check: You can check the whisky by shaking the bottle which will form a ring of bubbles on the top know as beading. The bubble ring or beading formed in the whisky bottle with 30-40 % of alcohol will disappear immediately after few seconds whereas a bottle with alcohol content of 50% will form a beading which would persist even after 20-30 seconds. This can be further cross-checked with the label for any discrepancies.

8.Look closely at the labels: Older labels are easily removed and glued to another bottle. Feel along the edges of the label for recently applied adhesives. Pay special attention to chips in the label. On a vintage bottle, a chip won’t leave any glue residue. Labels can be easily removed and applied on a new bottle. Try to feel the edges of the label for the presence of or any trail of adhesives. Irregularities in the pasting of labels are one big sign of a counterfeit whisky bottle.

The above discussed points are quite useful in determining the genuineness of whiskey. However, what should be done in case of other liquor products? The problem of counterfeiting has enveloped a vast share of liquor sector and many liquor brands are using anti-counterfeiting solutions to fight the menace. Holostik is one of the companies which provides cutting-edge anti-counterfeiting solutions to the liquor industry. These products and solutions have time and again helped the liquor industry to counter duplication successfully.

 

Counterfeit sites

Counterfeit sites are on the prowl- What you must do?

What would the world have looked like if internet never existed? ‘Sluggish’ is one word which comes to our mind along with a host of other downsides. Ranked at the pinnacle of inventions of the 20th century Internet has blessed us with many revolutionary ideas. However, with the passage of time Internet has become a dangerous place. Scams, fake identities, illegal arms business, drug trade, human trafficking and other criminal activities are being managed at the click of a button. There are rising reports of fraudulent activities and amidst this scenario, you must resort to safe browsing. Here is how you can manage it and stay safe from counterfeit websites.

Check the URL: One of the best ways to determine the legitimacy of a website is by checking its URL. Fake websites will visually try to look authentic, but they cannot have the same URL. Generally, they will have a spelling error in the URL, try to spot it.

‘S’ in HTTPS means safe and secure: E-commerce, finance and banking websites are required to have HTTPS protocol. They need to have ‘S’ which stands for secure. Even an authentic website which gives it a miss can easily get hacked, therefore, it is better to look out for the ‘S’ in the URL for a safe transaction. Secure websites will generally have a lock and HTTPS symbol.

 Genuine software will help: Always rely on reliable browsers like Chrome, Firefox, Safari or Edge. These browsers have built-in features that will inform you when you are about to visit a fake website. Moreover, antivirus software has extensions for browser that will tell you the authenticity of the website.

Read through the website: If you are interested in buying a product from a website, then it is better to go through its sections. Incorrect English is one of the biggest giveaways of a scam site. Besides, a blank Contact Us page also hints towards a dubious website. Google search ranking also determines the genuineness of a website. Fraud websites will usually have a lower ranking and will not appear on top of the search page compared to an original website.

Check the advertisements: Genuine websites will usually not have a bombardment of ads and popups if such is the case then the website is a scam.

You can use WHO.IS listing: If you want to dig deep down to determine a website’s authenticity, then you can certainly use who.is to determine the website’s owner along with the registered address.

Stay safe against duplicates

The problem of counterfeiting or duplication has become ubiquitous. From, millennials to old folks the menace of fake or duplicate products has crept into everybody’s life. Whether its something as simple as a toothpaste or something highly sophisticated as an electronic component used by military counterfeiting has plummeted business growth, tarnished brand image, jeopardized national security and ruined public health. According to Global Brand Counterfeiting Report 2018, “The total amount of counterfeiting globally has reached to 1.2 Trillion USD in 2017 and is bound to reach 1.82 Trillion USD by the year 2020”.

The figures are quite dismaying and reflect a grave problem which is on the rise. Besides many factors, lack of awareness among consumers is a big reason responsible for the growth of counterfeiting. It is quite challenging to stop a consumer who deliberately buys a counterfeit but an innocent consumer who is not aware of the menace can be warded off if he is made aware of some basic points. No doubt, remaining vigilant and staying updated are the best measures to counter duplication. If you are aware of the following seven red flags or signs, then you can prevent yourself from being duped by a counterfeit or a fake product, to a large extent.

1.Unbelievable discounts: For many, it may be quite tempting, but the lure of unrealistic discounts offered online can be no more than a bait. You must assess how much discount is typically available on the branded products. If the discounted price is hard to believe for example 75-85 % of the MRP then the product you are buying has high chances of being a counterfeit.

2.Poor packaging: No brand will ever compromise with packaging. Credible and recognized businesses always spend a considerable amount of money on packaging. If the packaging does not fit properly with the product, is made of cheap raw material or is improperly applied then these could be red flags of a counterfeit product. Similarly, if the product comes without packaging then it also falls in the domain of a duplicate.

3.Mistakes in grammar: Have you ever seen products with brand names such as Adibas, Dolce & Banana, Red Labial or Calein Klvin? Well, these incorrect spellings of some of the most popular brands have become a butt of jokes on social media. Such brand names often attract those customers who are illiterate or are just concerned with the looks of the product. Make it a habit to check the spelling and grammatical mistakes mentioned on the product labels. You can also match the same with the official website of the brand.

 4.Online authenticity: Nowadays, online shopping is bearing the brunt of counterfeiting. If you want to guard yourself against a fake product online, then you must always go for a website with ‘https’ and a lock symbol instead of ‘http’. In addition, you can check the authenticity of a website through the following links: http://tools.weburlopener.com/scam-website-checker and http://www.scamfoo.com.

5.Substandard quality: No wonder, poor quality of a product is a big turnoff and at the same time, it is a sign of a counterfeit. Dull and poor quality of the cloth fabric, fake leather and shabby looking plastic or metallic elements are never used in a branded product. If you have been already using a product of a specific brand for a long time, then you can easily spot a fake.

6.Check the codes, model number, logos etc.: A company prints codes, model numbers, trademark, patent information, logos and many other minute details. A counterfeit will often miss out some of the information while copying. You can easily cross-check such information from the company’s website or the customer care department. As far as logos are concerned they can also be verified with the company’s or brand’s website. A closer introspection will work wonders in identifying a duplicate product.

7.Check the contact details and accessories: Manufacturer’s always print the physical address, phone number, e-mail and other such contact details on the packaging of the product or on the labels. If it’s missing, then it should be a cause of concern and a sign of a possible counterfeit. Also ensure that the product has all the supplementary parts, instruction guide, and accessories mentioned on the package. If anything is missing it may hint towards a counterfeit product. While buying a product from a store open the box and check it properly whereas in case of an online purchase make a video recording of unboxing while receiving the delivery which will serve as proof.

By Ankit Gupta 
Group Director, Holostik Group

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed above are personal and does not guarantee that each of the points, red flags or methods to determine a counterfeit is completely accurate and may or may not work with different products.

 

The hazardous counterfeit milk industry in India

The following is an excerpt from an article on the grim scenario of Indian milk industry, published in the popular Malayalam newspaper Mathrubhumi in 2013. “This belief that we are the world’s number one milk producer is misplaced. We are the number one fake milk producer in the world. And the only way you can stop this and protect your children is by totally stopping the purchase of this dangerous product.”

Many of the harrowing facts discussed in the article about the growing fake milk industry in India are coming out be true. A few days back FSSAI (Food Safety and Standards Authority of India) revealed a shocking fact that 68.7 per cent of milk and milk products sold in the country are not as per the standards. This means that your milk has high chances of adulteration or the milk you are consuming every day might be fake.

The most common adulterants used to develop fake milk include detergent, caustic soda, glucose, white pain and refined oil. The Animal Welfare board has stated that the adulterants used in milk can be hazardous to health and may cause irreversible damage to organs. One of the biggest reasons cited for the growth of counterfeit milk industry is the ever-increasing demand for milk. According to some estimates, the demand for fluid milk is four times the production. To fulfil this gap milk suppliers and companies resort to adulteration.

According to a government data, “Demand for milk is increasing rapidly in the country. This is primarily due to increasing population and growing incomes accruing from the multitude of central schemes launched for livelihood and employment generation. If we go by the emerging trend, the demand for milk is likely to be about 155 million tonnes by the end of 12th Five-year Plan (2016-17) and in the range of 200-210 million tonnes in 2021-22. Annual average increase in the production of milk over the last 10 years has been around 3.5 million tonnes per annum whereas there is a need to reach an average of 6 million tonnes per year over the next 12 years to meet the ever-increasing demand.”

The mammoth demand for fluid milk will pose a challenge for the government and top milk suppliers, amidst this scenario there are high chances that you will be sold fake or highly adulterated milk, however, there are some tests which you can do at your home to determine the originality of fluid milk. Here are they:

Milk slip test: It’s quite an easy and quick way to assess a milk’s genuineness. Put a drop of milk on a polished surface. If the drop slowly leaves a trail behind then it is pure but if it flows immediately leaving no trace behind then it is impure.

Reduction test: Take some sample of the milk. Boil it on slow heat while stirring it with spoon for 2-3 hours. Once the milk becomes solid (khoya) with an oily appearance then the milk is pure otherwise its synthetic.

Starch test: In this test, you have to add iodine or iodine solution to the sample of the milk. The formation of blue colour will indicate the presence of starch and determine that the milk is not pure.