Myths about suspect or counterfeit items

Remember, you are the primary line of defense against S/CI, like these counterfeit watches. Photo: Gerald Nino.

Office of Quality and Best Practices (OQBP) at Fermilab has recently concluded a lab-wide assessment of suspect or counterfeit items, in accordance with Fermilab’s Suspect/Counterfeit Items Program (S/CI). In the course of this assessment, several misconceptions about the nature of S/CI risks and control methods emerged:

Myth #1: I purchase materials from reputable suppliers and don’t skimp on cost. I’m not at risk for S/CI.

  • False. Reputable suppliers experience S/CI problems. If each link in the supply chain simply trusts their suppliers without controls, a weak link will eventually allow S/CI into the products of the most reputable suppliers.

Myth #2: The Receiving Department inspects for counterfeit materials upon receipt at the lab. I don’t need to re-inspect my materials.

  • False. Receiving only verifies packing list part numbers and quantities against the purchase order. They don’t have the specific expertise or resources to inspect materials. Requestors must be knowledgeable in specific S/CI risks for purchases and establish controls accordingly.

Myth #3: I don’t purchase high-risk items like bolts, shackles or circuit breakers. My purchases aren’t subject to counterfeiting risks.

  • False. Common items such as batteries, extension cords and ink cartridges can be counterfeited.

Myth #4: Domestically-made products are not subject to counterfeiting.

  • False. S/CI materials in the supply chain can result in risks, even for U.S. production. Additionally, imported S/CI products may be labeled falsely identifying them as domestic products.

Myth #5: The products I order are certified by a third-party agency. Because of this certification, I’m assured the products aren’t counterfeit.

  • False. Counterfeit materials sometime bear counterfeit certification labeling or include falsified testing documents. Know the appropriate certification markings for your products and verify them before use.

You, as a knowledgeable purchaser, are the primary line of defense against S/CI materials. Be aware of the risks and indications of S/CI for any materials you specify or purchase and establish inspection or other controls to keep S/CI out of Fermilab.

— Kurt Mohr, QAE