Canadian Manufacturing

Counterfeit products pose serious safety and performance risks

CSA Group provides tips for spotting fake products and certification marks

—Sponsored article by CSA Group

Every year, thousands of Canadian businesses and consumers unknowingly purchase counterfeit products, putting them at risk of potentially serious injuries, illnesses or even death.

The risks are rapidly growing. With the latest technology at their fingertips, counterfeiters are finding more sophisticated ways to produce fraudulent products that are hard to separate from the real thing, potentially placing safety at serious risk.

According to a report from the RCMP, the number of occurrences involving harmful counterfeit products has increased from 11.5 per cent of all counterfeits investigated in 2005 to 30.4 percent in 2012. This includes items such as integrated circuits, batteries, wheel bearings, and a range of consumer products.

“All electrical and gas goods must be tested and marked as certified in order to be sold legally in Canada,” says Terry Hunter, Manager of Anti-Counterfeiting at CSA Group. “Counterfeiters shipping to and within Canada are aware of this and look to fool [buyers] by not only making brand names but also certification marks. Since fakes are not certified by an accredited organization, they may be missing safety features or using toxic materials.”

According to the Canadian Anti-Counterfeiting Network, fake products have grown into a huge, highly organized international business over the past decade. The problem extends across product categories with the retail value of seizures by the RCMP reaching over $38 million in Canada in 2012; up from $7.7 million in 2005.

In 2014, Industry Minister James Moore announced the passage of the Combating Counterfeit Products Act (Bill C-8) into law. The new law enables the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) to take action to prevent illegal counterfeit goods from entering Canada’s economy.

CBSA may now work with businesses and rights holders to identify counterfeit goods at the border and has the power to search for and detain illegal goods, keeping them out of the Canadian marketplace.

The law helps protect Canadian consumers, retailers and manufacturers. CSA Group actively supported and participated in lobbying efforts with the Canadian Anti-Counterfeiting Network (CACN), parliamentary ministers and members, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, and US and international efforts to recommend policy for the passage of this Bill.

The Act is playing an important role in stopping counterfeit products at the border, but manufacturers and other businesses should still be vigilant. CSA Group offers the following tips to spot fakes:

1. Buyer beware: Best deal ever? Think again. If the price seems too good to be true, it likely is. Counterfeiters often make a profit by using substandard materials and cutting corners, increasing the risk to the customer. Know the fair market value of products and be suspicious of the product if it’s significantly underpriced.

2. Look for the mark: Avoid products, especially electrical goods, if they don’t have a label from a recognized certification organization such as CSA Group. If there is a mark, look closely to ensure it matches the design and colour of the recognized certification organization. To confirm if a product is CSA Group certified, compare the identification label against the Certified Product Listing.

3. Recognize real: Brand-name companies want consumers to know whose product they’re buying. When a product doesn’t include a brand identifier or trademark, it may be counterfeit. Look for missing return addresses, company contact information, warranties or instructions.

4. Stick to solid: Check the “look and feel” of goods. Fake products are often too light and flimsy. Plus, counterfeit packaging is commonly poorly designed or includes partial illustrations, misspellings or unclear printing on products and labels.

5. Know the retailer: When in doubt, buy products from reputable, well-known stores or established online retailers that offer clear return policies. If purchasing online, especially electrical products, ensure the product is certified for use in your country.

CSA Group is a founding member of the Canadian Anti-Counterfeiting Network (CACN) and works in cooperation with other stakeholders to bring the issue of the hazards posed by counterfeits to the attention of government, the legal community, law enforcement and the Canadian public in order to raise awareness and enact positive changes.

CSA Group is also a member of the International Anti-Counterfeiting Coalition, an association of certification organizations that is partnered with INTERPOL called CIAC – the Certification Industry Against Counterfeiting.

For more articles from CSA Group, visit the Safety & Sustainability centre on

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