Watch for suspect and counterfeit items

Counterfeit items can make it into all levels of supply chains. Be vigilant in checking any items you receive and use. Photo: Courtesy of the Department of Energy

Suspect and counterfeit Items (S/CI) have made their way into nearly all facets of our lives, from the ink cartridges that we buy online to electrical equipment installed at Fermilab.

The risk of using substandard counterfeit items continues to grow due to the high profits realized by counterfeiters. During a recent visit to a local, national chain hardware store, all hoisting hooks observed on display were suspect, based on their markings.

Counterfeit items can make it into all levels of supply chains. Purchasing items from reputable suppliers helps reduce the risk, but the potential remains that suspect and counterfeit items may be introduced by a producer without the direct supplier knowing. There have been numerous cases of well-known manufacturers being deceived by their own suppliers, resulting in major product recalls. While many suspect items have been identified at Fermilab, we have been fortunate that there have been no known injuries or serious mishaps to date.

It’s important to know the general indications that an item might be counterfeit and to be vigilant checking any items that you receive and use. Poor workmanship, reworked material, and nonstandard or misspelled labeling are all indicators that the item you have received may be counterfeit. Carefully inspect any at-risk items before using them and seek guidance if in doubt.

If the price for an item seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Know your suppliers and consult with Procurement if needed. Make sure that employees who conduct inspections when receiving and installing the item have taken Fermilab suspect and counterfeit items training. Be especially careful when making Pro Card purchases, as these may bypass normal Procurement oversight.

Fermilab’s suspect/counterfeit program provides guidance for recognizing counterfeits and the items most prone to counterfeiting. The Department of Energy also posts identification information and relays information on counterfeit items found within the DOE complex.

— Edited by Kurt Mohr