Don’t be shocked: Counterfeiters are on the rise

Sometimes, the cheapest product isn’t the best deal. And sometimes, it’s counterfeit.

            That means one company has packaged a product to look like it was made by a more reputable company. You buy it and take it home, and it might not operate as it should. Worse, it might be unsafe.

            That’s the case with counterfeit electrical products, which can shock you, start a fire or even electrocute you. And over the past decade, these products have become more common in the U.S., according to the Electrical Safety Foundation International.

Here’s how to keep counterfeit electrical products from shocking you:

  • Be suspicious of electrical cords, circuit breakers and appliances from discount stores that are way less expensive than the ones you’ve seen in electronics stores.
  • Avoid shopping at discount stores with unfamiliar names.
  • Never, ever buy electrical products over the Internet from unfamiliar vendors.
  • Learn how to recognize certification marks from Underwriters Laboratories and other safety testers. Carefully inspect the electrical products you buy for authentic marks.
  • Shy away from products in shoddy packaging. The product inside won’t be much better.
  • Read the labels carefully. Counterfeiters often change one letter in a brand name: Nike knock-offs, for example, might show up with a label that says “Mike.”
  • Report any suspected counterfeit products to the manufacturer of the name-brand item.