Think Twice Before Buying Unofficial Apple Chargers

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Pro tip: when charging your Apple gadget, stick to the devices provided by Cupertino.

Approximately 99 percent of phony Apple chargers bought online are unsafe, according to a report from the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (TSI). The UK-based organization recently bought and analyzed 400 allegedly counterfeit accessories from suppliers in Australia, Canada, China, Colombia, Thailand, and the US. Only three chargers passed an electrical strength test, which determines how much voltage will flow between the input and output; 397 contained the potential for electric shock.

Officers conducted a subsequent investigation closer to home, focused on local charity shops, antique dealers, and secondhand stores throughout England. When examined by an electrical engineer, 15 percent of 3,019 used electrical goods failed the test; that number rose to 27 percent in the capital city of London.

"Many of us quite rightly assume that everything we buy will be safe," Toby Harris, chair of consumer watchdog National Trading Standards, said in a statement. "But recent work by our teams show how dangerous electrical goods can easily end up in homes up and down the country."

There are some tell-tale signs of a bogus phone charger, according to the TSI. Legitimate devices should include markings like a manufacturer's brand name or logo, model, and batch number, as well as user instructions. The Institute also warns against faulty pins; if the charger does not properly fit in a socket, it can cause overheating, arcing, and mechanical damage.

"Only buy second-hand electrical goods that have been tested and only buy online electrical goods from trusted suppliers," TSI CEO Leon Livermore suggested. "It might cost a few pounds more but counterfeit and second-hand goods are an unknown entity that could cost you your home or even your life, or the life of a loved-one."

Apple in October sued Brooklyn-based Mobile Star LLC for trademark infringement, claiming the company sold counterfeit power products—adapters, charging/syncing cables—through Amazon.com.

In March, Amazon announced a crackdown on sales of shoddy USB-C cables. Any USB-C or USB Type-C cable or adapter not compliant with standards specifications issued by the USB Implementers Forum Inc. is prohibited from sale on Amazon.

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