A hallmark of consumer fraud is counterfeiting, a practice which costs the UK well over a billion pounds per year. Increased label security is assisting to curb the many negative effects of product counterfeiting and protect businesses and their brands.
What can be counterfeited?
Criminals attempt to pass off fake products as genuine in many ways, and by focusing on more than one aspect of a product. They may use the actual original product package and fill it with fraudulent goods. They may also take expired goods and re-package them in their own false packaging. Counterfeiting can also extend to the production of false documents of ownership. Indeed, these individuals have carefully constructed their own businesses.
Ending the practice of counterfeiting begins with not underestimating the criminals. They will not be stopped by light efforts and easily-duplicated technology; the only way to thwart them is to seek the advice of professionals and find the right measures to incorporate into your security labels.
One popular security feature in the printing world is the Guilloche, a complex and intricate mathematical design. Much like the Spirograph toys of old, the Guilloche is a shape developed when a circle’s fixed point is rolled inside a larger circle.
Although this is used extensively on many types of currency, the Guilloche is now a very popular means of securing products, as it is very difficult to copy without the exact formula used for the image. The formula itself has many changeable parts, meaning that potentially millions of patterns can be created.
Micro text is printed in such a small size that it is not visible unless magnified. However, even then, individual characters can contain their own variations, which make replication impossible. This security measure is often integrated into labels in areas that are either unnoticeable or inconspicuous.
In situations where micro text is comprised of individual words or sentences, intentional misspellings can offer an added layer of security. This tactic works because of the high degree of difficulty involved in replication; in order to achieve a perfect copy, the original artwork files must be available to the counterfeiter. To a scanner, micro text will appear as a solid or dotted line without exceptionally high resolution. The same is true of any printer used to duplicate this text.
Variable Data Printing (VDP)
This technology involves changing the images, text and other elements on labels each time they are printed. This is done by accessing information stored on an external file or in a database, and is efficient, as it doesn’t require the printing process to slow down or stop.
The interesting thing about variable data printing is that even the most unassuming piece of a label can contain modifications that may not be visible to the naked eye. And these modifications can be so random as to make the next change virtually unpredictable.
Security can also be worked directly into inks and toners, and there are several different types of these as well. One or more chemical or physical markers can be added to ink or the substrate onto which information will be printed. This allows for more than one level of verification to be completed.
A clear toner that’s UV reflective can also be added, which will reveal any invisible images or text. This toner is not easily replicated, and is affordable, making it a cost-effective means of securing your products.
Labels can contain raised images and text, which cannot be reproduced using standard CMYK printers. A single image is printed using several toners applied on top of one another. This is done inside a black field in a single layer.
The above security measures can be difficult and costly to implement following printing. However, when they are integrated into the design of your security labels, they are much more cost-effective.