FAKE iPhone chargers are putting users at risk of electric shocks of house fires.
Of 50 counterfeit devices, bought from websites like Amazon and eBay or high street shops, all but one had safety issues, according to an investigation by Electrical Safety First.
All the chargers tested also had incorrect or fraudulent safety markings and almost half failed an electric strength test meaning that there was a severe risk of electric shock.
In some cases the chargers came from sellers who claimed they were genuine Apple products.
Apple chargers cost from about £38 for the plug and lead which must be bought separately, while unofficial versions cost from as little as £10.
Electrical Safety First also tested 14 EU chargers as part of its research – all of which failed tests in every respect.
Martyn Allen, technical director at Electrical Safety First, said: “It is extremely concerning that 49 out of 50 UK chargers we tested failed basic safety checks.
“This report shows that anyone purchasing an iPhone charger from an online marketplace or at an independent discount store is taking a serious risk with their safety.
“The majority of chargers we tested had the potential to deliver a lethal electrical shock or cause a fire.
HOW TO SPOT A FAKE APPLE CHARGER
IT can be tricky to spot the difference between a genuine and fake Apple charger, according to Electrical Safety First. Here's how to tell the difference:
- Text and markings on the plug. Look for missing markings (like the CE mark) or spelling errors. These are the easiest way to spot a counterfeit – but beware, as fake products are becoming more sophisticated
- Plug pin finish. This can be another fairly obvious indicator of a fake. The finish on a genuine charger is high quality, matte and uniform. On counterfeit chargers the finish is usually glossy or shiny with imperfections.
- USB port. The USB port on a counterfeit charger might be upside down, or in a different place. A genuine charger will also have a serial number at the back of the USB port
- Materials. Testing has shown that the pins on counterfeit plugs are much weaker than required by the standard. This is typically because they are metal-coated hollow plastic, rather than the solid metal used in genuine products. An easy check for this is to simply flick the largest pin and listen to the noise it makes. A genuine plug will sound and feel solid, while counterfeit products will make a “plastic” noise and feel hollow.
- Weight. As counterfeit chargers contain few, if any, of the higher quality components required for safety, they are usually significantly lighter than genuine chargers. The charger should weigh at least 40g.
- Shape and dimension. The plug pins on a fake Apple charger may be larger or smaller than a genuine one, and may be positioned in a different place. The easiest way to check is by using the Electrical Safety First plug checker tool.
“We’re urging people to take care when buying a charger and recommend buying directly from trusted retailers only.
“When you buy a fake, at best you could damage your phone but at worst you could be putting your life, your family and your home at risk.”
Electrical Safety First is calling on online marketplaces to strengthen their efforts in preventing the sale of counterfeit or lookalike electrical goods.
It’s not the first warning that has been issued over fake chargers.
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Last December, Apple users were warned by Trading Standards about fake chargers which could blow up and set fire to homes.
Apple has also slammed the sale of fake products in the past.
Last month, the tech giant introduced wireless charging on the latest versions of its smartphone, the premium iPhone X and the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus models.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU BUY A FAKE CHARGER
IF you suspect that your charger is faulty here's what you need to do:
- Stop using it immediately. Even if they have been using it for a while and haven’t had any problems, faulty electrical appliances can break at any point and put you at risk.
- Contact your local Trading Standards office to report the product. Try and give them as much information as possible, including where you bought the product and the name of the seller, if possible.
- Don’t take risks. Don’t buy a fake, at best you’ve been scammed and at worst you could risk your life.
- Report it to the seller. Either inform websites like eBay and Amazon about the item so they can help stop fakes too. It’s unlikely that you’ll be able to get a refund from a dodgy seller but you are entitled to a refund if an item is fautly under the Consumer Rights Act.
- Get your money back. If you’re unable to get a refund from the seller you might be able to get a refund via your bank. If you spend over £100 (which is unlikely for a charger!) you can claim back from your credit card company under Section 75 of the Consumer Rights Act. If you paid by debit card then you may be able to recalim under the ChargeBack scheme. EBay has it’s one buyer protection policy too.
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