Cheap and Dangerous: Fake Chargers Can Be Risky Business

Public service announcement from Walton EMC

U.S. consumers are now spending more time with their mobile devices than watching TV.

Smartphones account for 70 percent of that mobile time, with users spending an average of 3 hours, 10 minutes per day on them, according to a study by trend-watcher eMarketer.

As mobile device use – and the necessary charging – increases, so does the safety risk, warns Brad Adcock, Walton EMC’s director of safety and training. Cheap replacement charging accessories that seem like a bargain can do harm that is costly.

Costly Consequences

The number of home fires attributed specifically to counterfeit charging accessories is climbing, say experts like Randy Ivans, wire and cable program manager for UL, one of the world’s largest product safety laboratories.

Uncertified, or counterfeit, charging cords or blocks are less likely to meet established safety and quality testing guidelines as compared to their name-brand counterparts.

“They are readily available, easy to get, nice on the pocketbook, but be aware that you are going to get what you pay for. These cheap chargers may or may not have safety certifications on them,” said Ivans.

Overcharging a battery can cause a fire or explosion. It can also damage or destroy the device.

Generic, low-cost chargers can also injure users, according to a study published in the Annals of Emergency Medicine.

“Even with a low-voltage device, if the current is high, then the electric shock can be severe,” said Dr. Carissa Bunke, a leader of the study. Fires resulting from faulty chargers can potentially cause severe burns to the body, too.

Buyer Beware

So, how does a consumer guard against counterfeit charger hazards? The technology experts at provide these suggestions for ensuring your safety:

  • Only purchase charging accessories from name-brand manufacturers.
  • If you use Apple products, use only MFi (Made For iPhone) chargers. Check the Apple website for a list of sources for genuine, certified chargers.
  • For Android, make sure the charger is compliant with USB-C specifications.
  • Don’t leave your phone charging unattended.
  • Never sleep with your phone or mobile devices charging in bed.
  • Avoid leaving a charger plugged in when it is not connected to a phone.
  • Don’t charge in hot environments.

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