With Christmas approaching, we’re being warned to be extra careful about what we buy and where we buy it from.

Fake, cheap imitations of genuine items are often shoddy replicas and cost us all money, as they are usually sold on the black market.

Meanwhile, fake tickets leave people out of pocket and unable to see the event they thought they were paying to see.

Here’s how to beat the fakes.

Fake goods

Fake goods can range from designer clothes, bags and watches to dodgy perfumes, cigarettes and alcoholic drinks.

They can be sold online as well as at the likes of car boot sales, markets and fairs.

A recent investigation into fake cigarettes in the Medway area of Kent found that they contain traces of human excrement, rat droppings and high levels of toxins. They cost the UK economy an estimated £3 billion a year in unpaid duty.

Meanwhile, counterfeit designer bags are the most sought-after fake fashion item, according to recent surveys. Some designers have tried to combat this by using specific material and including little touches that made their products hard to copy.

Technology has made it easier to rip off genuine designs, but the price should be one indication that this potential bargain might be too good to be true.

And if you’re considering buying an item even though you know it’s fake, think about this. As well as the lost tax, fake goods have been linked to other, far more serious forms of crime.

If you think someone is selling fake goods, you can contact Consumer Direct on 08454 04 05 06 or report them to your local Trading Standards office.

[Related story: Watch out for these postal scams]

Fake tickets

Sadly more and more fake ticket websites have been springing up and catching unwary people out.

Scammers either take people’s money with no tickets following, or they send out batches of forged tickets which are then rejected at the event.

Earlier this year, hundreds of people were left disappointed after buying forged tickets for a Beyonce concert in Manchester.

With Rugby World Cup tickets also due to go back on sale, the police and anti-fraud campaigners are warning us to only buy tickets from reputable ticket websites and agencies.

Genuine ticket websites include the likes of Ticketmaster, See Tickets, Live Nation and AEG. The Society of Ticket Agents & Retailers (Star) has a list of officially authorised members.

Beware of buying tickets through people advertising on websites such as eBay and Craigslist, as sadly it’s all too easy for scammers to take your money and then disappear.

If you’ve lost money to a ticket scammer, you can report it to Action Fraud. If you’ve paid over £100 by credit card, you may be able to claim the money back from your card company.