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Identifying counterfeit certification Marks

The first question any consumer asks when they hear about the potential for products bearing counterfeit certification marks is, "How can I tell?" Fortunately, based on UL's experience, a very small percentage of goods have been discovered bearing counterfeit UL Marks. However, UL suggests some considerations consumers should keep in mind if they suspect a counterfeit product.

  • Only shop with retailers you know and trust.  
  • Be wary of products found at deep discount stores that are packaged in boxes that don't display the brand, product name or a certification mark on the box or the product itself.
  • Look for a reputable certification mark on the box and product, such as the UL Mark, to decrease your odds of buying potentially hazardous products.
  • Do not purchase electrical products from flea markets or other temporary venues that do not allow for product returns.
  • If the price of the product is significantly lower than similar products, it may be because substandard, cheap materials were used in its manufacture. Beware!
  • Contact UL immediately by e-mailing or calling +1-877-UL-HELPS (1-877-854-3577) if you suspect a product may have a counterfeit UL Mark.

Genuine UL Marks

UL Marks consist of four elements that can be found on the product in the form of a label, die-stamping, molding, or silk-screening (in certain circumstances, this information may appear only on the packaging). Look for these elements to verify legitimate UL Marks:

  • The name and/or UL certification mark (UL in a circle).
  • The word "LISTED" in capital letters.
  • A control number (four alpha-numeric characters) or issue number (sequence of typically 4 to 6 numbers). The issue number may be preceded by one or two letters and by the phrase "Issue No." but not always.
  • A product identity (i.e. what the product is).

Other markings that may appear next to or in the vicinity of the legitimate Listing Mark are:

  • UL File Number (for most products this number is prefixed with an "E")
  • Company Name or logo
  • Model, Catalog or Type designation
  • Electrical ratings

Identifying counterfeit Marks

The following warning signs and tips may help you spot products that do not have a genuine UL Mark:

  • A product bearing a label that doesn't contain the four elements outlined above.
  • Any product that references UL on the carton or on the product itself, but has no company name, trademark, trade name or other designation authorized by UL.
  • Cheap, low-quality workmanship and/or packaging marks with the letters "UL" side-by-side instead of staggered, the lack of a control or issue number, or the words "Approved" or "Pending" instead of "LISTED" or "CLASSIFIED".
  • Product packaging that contains numerous grammatical and spelling errors.
  • Legitimate products generally include product manuals that provide applicable safety warnings and instructions for use, care and maintenance of the product. The lack of appropriate documentation may be a warning sign.
  • Legitimate manufacturers are proud of their products and want to hear from you. They will usually provide a toll-free phone number or other contact information for reporting problems with the product. Be suspicious if you can't find a company name and contact information.

Holographic UL Marks

In addition to the labels mentioned above, UL is constantly working to stay ahead of counterfeiters. UL introduced holographic UL Mark that is required in 28 common consumer product areas, including power supply cords, nightlights and ceiling fans. The redesigned label incorporates cutting-edge technology, elevated security features and a unique hologram design, making it easy to identify and validate, yet incredibly difficult to replicate. Distinct features of the new hologram label include:

  • Gold background to help U.S. Customs, law enforcement agencies, distributors, retailers and consumers quickly identify the new label.
  • Repeating pattern of floating UL symbols, a burst pattern around one of the floating UL symbols, detailed micro-printing and wavy lines.
  • Color shifting ink similar to that in the new U.S. paper currency.
  • Additional covert security features to assist with the authentication of a UL holographic label.

UL mandates the use of holographic labels for products more prone to counterfeiting. Learn more about holographic UL Marks.