The saying, “If it’s too good to be true, it usually is.” should come to mind when you find electrical products that are far below competitor prices.  But electrical products are uniquely hazardous when impersonated.  They have not undergone testing by an independent laboratory, likely do not comply with industry safety requirements, and since its origin is often unknown, its manufacturer isn’t held accountable for the potentially deadly results.  Learn what to look for and help protect yourself and your loved ones from fires or injuries associated with counterfeit products.

How to Avoid Counterfeits:

  • Use established vendors who purchase their goods from legitimate distributors and genuine manufacturers.
  • Read the packaging and labels carefully.  The text should be free of grammatical errors and should not contain conflicting information
  • Packaging should contain the name and contact information of the manufacturer.
  • Avoid unknown brands and products that do not display any brand affiliation.
  • Do your research. Organizations such as the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), CSA Group, and Underwriters Laboratories (UL) provide information about product recalls, including those related to counterfeiting, on their websites.

Counterfeit Facts:

  • The prevalence of counterfeit products has increased over 10,000% in the past two decades
  • Cell phones comprised about 1/3rd of the counterfeit consumer electronics seized at the U.S. borders
  • 470,000 counterfeit smartphone batteries were recalled in 2010 because they overheated, causing burns and fire hazards
  • In 2011, China was the source of over 80% of the seizures for violations of intellectual property rights and has been the leading source for each of the ten years prior
  • Counterfeiting costs U.S. businesses between $200-$250 billion each year and results in 750,000 lost jobs
  • Counterfeiting profits have been traced to organized crime and terrorism
  • In 2012 U.S. Customs made 22,848 seizures of counterfeit and pirated goods. These goods were valued at more than $1.26 billion
  • Top counterfeit commodities seized in 2011 by U.S. Customs:
    • 22% – Consumer Electronics
    • 14% – Footwear
    • 9% – Pharmaceuticals
    • 9% – Optical Media
    • 8% – Wearing Apparel
    • 5% – Perfume / Cologne