Here's how you can tell if a Gucci bag is fake

Celebrities like Beyoncé, Reese Witherspoon, and Rihanna love Gucci bags, per PurseBop — and who wouldn't want to accessorize like these ladies? But in case you don't have a matching bank account, you might be searching for one of the designer's purses from a third-party seller or a private one. And while many places offer secondhand, authentic bags at a discounted price, there are some scammers out there looking to pass off a fake for the real thing. And it's not just Gucci that's ripped off, but also Dior, Louis Vuitton, and other high-end brands. Luckily, doing a little homework — and knowing some tell-tale signs of an imitation — can help ensure you get the legitimate Gucci bag of your dreams.

First, be sure to do a little online digging before buying a secondhand designer item. "If you don't have dozens of tabs open on your web browser, then it's possible you haven't done enough research," Charles Gorra, CEO and founder of Rebag, tells Elle. He advises scrolling through blogs and forums for consumer reviews and comparing different resale sites to see if the asking price is consistent and not too low, a sure giveaway it's too good to be true.

More ways to spot a Gucci fake

If you're shopping in person or already have the bag in hand (and think you might need to return it), check out the serial number. It should be located on a square or rectangular leather patch on the inside of the bag near the top, according to The Chic Selection. It's never on the side of the bag. Make sure the serial number is in two stacked rows and doesn't include any letters. Also, the trademark symbol should be stamped on the tag, along with the words "made in Italy" in all lowercase letters.

Next, check out the bag's hardware. If it feels light and flimsy, it's not authentic, per Love that Bag Etc. And if your bag has a metal zipper, it should be flat and branded with the word Gucci. Another tell-tale sign of a forgery? The two legs of the U in Gucci are the same width. In an authentic bag, one side of the U is wider than the other, reports Bagaholic 101. And, of course, if the branding is off-center, or the stitching looks rough and uneven, you want to steer clear of that bag.

Now that you know the secrets of the scammers, you can feel confident if you decide to shop for a Gucci bag.