The next time some tough guy on the street tries to pressure you into buying cheap Christmas bulbs JUST SAY NO! Apparently, the market for counterfeit holiday decorations is increasing at an alarming pace—and these lights can pose serious safety hazards. They may try and sucker you in by saying things like "this is the real deal" and "come on man, don't you want your house to look like the Grizwold's for only $5?" But be warned—this lifestyle isn't "cool" or "glamorous." Do you want a nasty shock or a tree fire? Well do ya? Hell no you don't. So, watch out for "surprisingly low prices, unusual labeling or certification marks and a lack of sales tax on a receipt since counterfeiters generally don't report their sales. Consumers should also be aware of street vendors and unauthorized dealers." If this message scared only one of you straight, then I (and the National Electrical Contractors Association) have done our job.
Counterfeit Christmas Lights Pose Safety Hazard for Consumers Decorations with Fake UL Labels Among Growing Range of Counterfeit Electrical Products BETHESDA, Md., November 11, 2008 — Counterfeit Christmas lights—including those with fake Underwriters Laboratories, Inc. (UL) labels—pose a threat to consumers for their potential inability to meet electrical safety and fire codes. The traditional holiday decorations are part of the rapidly growing crime of counterfeit electrical products in the United States—90+ percent of which are imported from China. Now reaching epic proportions in a $130 billion industry, counterfeiting is a crime that threatens the lives and safety of all U.S. citizens and electrical workers. "Underwriters Laboratories Inc., like many other Intellectual Property Rights and Trademark owners, has seen a dramatic increase in the amount of counterfeited products and trademark labels on those products in the past, several years," said panel participant Robert Crane, lead enforcement manager, Anti-Counterfeiting Operations, UL, Chapel Hill, N.C. "For several decades, UL has integrated security features in many of its labels." Crane participated in the opening panel discussion last month in Chicago as part of the new Anti-Counterfeit Products Initiative hosted by the NECA-published Electrical Contractor magazine, Bethesda, Md., and The Electrical Distributor (TED) magazine, published by the National Association of Electrical Distributors (NAED), St. Louis. The joint industry initiative is endorsed by NAED, NECA and the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA). Crane said that more recently, holographic labels were developed to further thwart the piracy of UL labels with the first holograms introduced in 1993 for decorative lighting strings and outfits. Since the holograms were so successful, said Crane, in 1996 additional categories for products manufactured in China also required holographic labels. This year, he said more requirements have been implemented regarding the use of holograms along with a newer hologram technology including the newest gold holograms. A few warning signals for counterfeit lighting include surprisingly low prices, unusual labeling or certification marks and a lack of sales tax on a receipt since counterfeiters generally don't report their sales. Consumers should also be aware of street vendors and unauthorized dealers. ### Published by the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA), Bethesda, Md., Electrical Contractor magazine delivers 85,300+ electrical contractors and more than 68,000 electrical contracting locations, more than any other industry publication.