Utility Warns of Counterfeit Electrical Products

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KISSIMMEE, Fla., May 6, 2014 – As part of its observance of National Electrical Safety Month this month, Kissimmee Utility Authority is reminding customers to recognize dangerous and defective counterfeit electrical products.

Every day, counterfeit electrical products are finding their way into homes, businesses and public institutions. These products pose significant safety hazards, and can cause deaths, injuries and substantial property loss in the home and the workplace if left undetected. While the appearance and packaging can be very convincing, the products themselves are often substandard.

According to Gallup Consulting and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, 64 percent of counterfeit electrical products in the United States are purchased from legitimate shops and retailers. More than 1 million counterfeit electrical products have been recalled in recent years, including extension cords, fuses, power strips, holiday lights, batteries and hair dryers.

“The current U.S. economic conditions have essentially acted as a catalyst within the context of counterfeit consumer electrical products,” said KUA spokesman Chris Gent. “People are going to great lengths in search of a bargain, favoring alternative retailers and online vendors, which is where these substandard products are more likely to be found.”

Counterfeit electrical products can be difficult to spot. They can be knock-off versions of brand name products or items that bear an unauthorized certification marking, and may be manufactured without key components or compliance to relevant safety standards in order to save money.

Here are some tips to protect yourself from the dangers of counterfeit electrical products:

– Use established vendors who purchase their goods from legitimate distributors and genuine manufacturers.

– Read the packaging and labels carefully. 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. Trademarked logos that look different than usual may signal a counterfeit.

– Look for certification marks from the manufacturer and an independent testing laboratory—such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL) or the Canadian Standards Association (CSA).

– Do your research. Organizations such as the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) provide information about product recalls, including those related to counterfeiting, on their websites.

Founded in 1901, KUA (www.kua.com) is Florida’s sixth largest community-owned utility powering 64,000 customers in Osceola County, Fla.

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Chris M. Gent
(407) 933-9836