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New Year’s Resolution from Eaton: Combat electrical counterfeiting

November 26, 2012 | By Anthony Capkun

November 26, 2012 – Eaton Corp. is sharing tips aimed at helping facility owners and contractors identify counterfeit electrical products; these tips can help you as you take inventory of your current stock and prepare for purchasing in the New Year.

“While there are laws against counterfeiting in many countries, detection is sometimes difficult and enforcement is lax,” said Tom Grace, brand protection manager, Eaton’s Electrical Sector. “Legitimate manufacturers, distributors and customers must work together to prevent unsafe products from entering the supply chain and causing harm to people and property.”

Counterfeit electrical products present serious health and safety risks to consumers and the electrical industry. Although they are often less expensive than legitimate products (because the manufacturers cut corners), they also present long-term economic risks related to safety and their negative impact on legitimate manufacturers.

Buy authentic
The best way to avoid counterfeit electrical products is to purchase products from the manufacturer’s authorized distributors or resellers. There is a higher risk of counterfeits when one cannot trace the path of commerce to the original manufacturer.


Verify authentication
When possible, use tools provided by the OEM or certification organizations to verify electrical products as authentic. This can be done while purchasing or for products currently owned. For example, Eaton’s Circuit Breaker Authentication (CBA) tool is designed to allow customers to detect whether Eaton moulded-case circuit breakers (MCCBs) up to 400 amperes are counterfeit.

Scrutinize labels and packaging
Check for certification marks from organizations that certify quality and performance. Avoid products that lack any identifying branding label or affiliation. Be leery of additional markings or labelling not applied by the OEM, with missing or poor-quality labels, out-of-date product codes and non-genuine packaging. As counterfeiters become more sophisticated, counterfeit products become even more difficult to detect this way, creating the need for additional scrutiny.

Avoid bargains
When shopping for electrical products, avoid bargains that seem too good to be true. Compare the price of that product to a similar product at a different retailer. When it seems too good to be true, the odds are it is.

Pay close attention to products purchased
Quality control is often lacking in counterfeiting operations, so you may be able to spot a counterfeit simply based on its workmanship. When it is a product that is purchased habitually, compare the quality and price of that product at a different retailer. Be cautious of products that seem flimsy or are noticeably poorly made.

Make sure everything that should be there is there
Counterfeit products often don’t include supplementary materials such as the owner’s manual or product registration card. Sometimes, counterfeiters do not include all the parts that should come with the product, or some parts will be from a different manufacturer.

Report suspected counterfeits
When a product is suspected to be counterfeit, contact the brand owner. This will allow authentication of the suspect product and ensure the potentially unsafe product is removed from the marketplace.

“Stopping the sale of counterfeit products is everyone’s responsibility—manufacturers, distributors, resellers (authorized and unauthorized) and customers alike,” said Grace. “Implementing these tips into inventory and purchasing practices is a big way for customers to help keep counterfeit products out of their facilities and the demand for counterfeits down.”

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