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How to Identify Counterfeit Electrical Products

When you picture a counterfeit product, the first thing that probably comes to mind is money. Criminals try to pass off counterfeit bills for the real thing so they can purchase products and disappear without a trace. But did you know electrical products can be counterfeit as well? In fact, consumer electronics comprise the single largest category of counterfeit commodities seized by US customs, making up 22 percent of all items seized each year.

What makes an electrical product counterfeit, and how can you spot it? Use these tips any time you shop for electronics to protect your home and family from counterfeits.

What are Counterfeit Electrical Products?

When shopping for electronics, you may stumble across a product with a price far below what competitors are selling their products for. If this happens, you have probably spotted a counterfeit electrical product. Don’t be tempted to purchase the item just because it costs less. After all, while many types of products can be impersonated, counterfeit electrical products are particularly dangerous because:

  • They have not undergone testing by an independent laboratory.
  • They likely don’t comply with industry safety standards.
  • They can cause electrocution or start a fire.
  • Since product origins are often unknown, the manufacturer can’t be held liable if products cause property damage or physical harm.

How to Avoid Counterfeit Products

The potential dangers you face from purchasing counterfeit electrical products are clearly not worth the lower price you might be asked to pay. To ensure you don’t face any unnecessary dangers when purchasing electronics, follow these tips:

  • Only shop at reputable retail locations. Established vendors only purchase their goods from legitimate distributors and manufacturers.
  • If you see any grammatical errors or typos on the product label, that’s a sign the product is not professionally made.
  • Look for the Underwriters Laboratories (UL) logo on the label, indicating the product has undergone proper testing.
  • If the product is legitimate, you should see the name and contact information for the manufacturer on the label.
  • Avoid purchasing unknown brands or products that display no brand affiliation of any kind.

How to Report a Counterfeit Product

The prevalence of counterfeit products has risen over 10,000% in the past 20 years. During this time, counterfeits have become increasingly harder to spot as unscrupulous manufacturers get better at deceiving customers via the internet and tempting low prices.

If you accidentally purchase a counterfeit product, report it to the brand owner. This alerts the brand owner to investigate the suspected product and remove it from the marketplace if it’s indeed counterfeit. If you don’t know the product’s brand, contact the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center, which will disseminate the information to the appropriate parties and work toward removing the product from the market.

By taking an active role in reporting counterfeit products, you help put an end to this illegal industry, the revenue from which can often be traced to organized crime and terrorism. Demand for counterfeit electrical products would decrease dramatically if everyone reported the imitation devices they accidentally purchased.

We want to help you keep your home and family safe from counterfeit electrical products! To learn more, or to receive help with a problematic electronic device, please contact Mr. Electric® for professional assistance.