Counterfeit products are defined as goods, often of inferior quality, made or sold under another brand’s name without the brand owner’s authorization. In part because of the Internet, we have become more and more inundated with counterfeit products. In 2014, US law enforcement agencies had to shut down 29,684 websites that were illegally selling counterfeit products.

Counterfeit products pose a significant risk. Not only do they cost American businesses as much as $250 billion in trade loss a year, but they can also be dangerous, and at times even fatal. Below are some guidelines put together by Consumer Reports that could help you identify whether a product is counterfeit.

UL Labels on Appliances and Cords

The UL label is the safety seal that Underwriters Laboratories puts on appliances and electronics. Counterfeiters can create fake labels, especially for low-cost items such as power cords, extension cords, and cell phone chargers and batteries. Products with fake UL labels can cause fires, electric shocks, and other dangers. An authentic UL label always includes the UL logo

[include image], the word “LISTED,” the product identity, and the unique four-character alphanumeric code assigned by UL.


Authentic batteries should always have the manufacturer logo and the + and – icons. They should also include the watt-hours value and the battery capacity. The contacts on real batteries should be recessed and flat rather than curved or protruding.

Drugs and Medical Products

Authentic drugs should have a holographic image with the manufacturer’s name. The vial should include a lot number and should have entries for LOT, MFG, and EXP. Also be sure that the active ingredient is correct. When in doubt, ask a physician.

Consider the Source

Flea markets, eBay, marketplace merchants, independent deep-discount and no-name stores, purse parties, swap meets, and even mall kiosks are susceptible to counterfeit products. Be cognizant of “copycat” websites and online pharmacies.

Consider the Price

If the price is considerably below market value or seems too good to be true, it probably is.

FORLETTA’s Pittsburgh- and Cleveland-based private investigators can help you verify the authenticity of a product. If you have any suspicion that a product might be counterfeit, contact FORLETTA today.


  1. Consumer Reports. (2015). Counterfeit good: How to tell the real from the rip-off.
  2. Underwriters Laboratories. (2004). How Can We Tell If A UL Listing Mark Is Counterfeit. IAEI News.