Counterfeit extension cordsWe think every product we buy in the United States is safe, but the reality is that’s just not true. I spent time with the Area Port Director for U.S. Customs and Border Protection and some of his colleagues. They showed me counterfeit products and explained their job trying to intercept counterfeit products at FedEx, DHL, and UPS Express hubs in the Midwest region.

The agents sort through thousands of packages while we sleep every night, hoping to find the counterfeit items and prevent them from being delivered in the morning. They look for paperwork problems, misspellings, and the quality of the products.  It’s impossible to catch every item especially as the crooks become more sophisticated.

An expert took us to a discount store and showed us what he believed were counterfeit extension cords sitting right next to legitimate products. The prices were often the same. In some cases, we found counterfeit items slightly more expensive than the legitimate product at that store or another store. See what happens when we tested the suspected counterfeit cord.

The  best tip to protect yourself — don’t assume a product is safe if you see a safety label. Check out the packaging. Look for brand name products with contact information for the company. Finally, buy the items at large retailers to ensure the products are coming from a safe supply chain.