Buyer beware: Increase in counterfeit cable alerts

There’s a lot at risk if you install non-compliant cable, either knowingly or unknowingly. In addition to low network performance from counterfeit and low-grade cable, installing non-compliant cable can result in violations of state and local building codes and fire regulations. If a contractor installs non-compliant cable and it causes damage, such as a fire, the contractor can face civil liabilities and monetary damages stemming from negligence, fraud, and breach of contract and warranty. In addition, contractors can face criminal liabilities stemming from building code violations. Enforcement can include halting the installation and removing and replacing the cable, which can be extremely costly. Other criminal penalties can include fines and imprisonment. The costs of using counterfeit or non-compliant cable can be very high indeed.

Over the past few months there has been an increase in Intertek Testing Services (ETL) and Underwriters Laboratories (UL) warnings concerning unauthorized, hazardous, and/or counterfeit cable. The following alerts have been issued this year:

January 15th, 2013: UL warns of potentially hazardous communications cable

January 28th, 2013: Intertek Testing Services Warns Consumers of Counterfeit ETL Verified Mark

January 31st, 2013: UL warns of potentially hazardous communications cable

These and past alerts can be found on UL’s website under Newsroom > Public Notices. ETL warnings can be found in their Inspector Information Center. Public notices are located on the right-hand side of the webpage.

It’s estimated that as much as 20% of the cable now for sale is unsafe, unapproved, or counterfeit.

Agency representatives and code officials are aware of these risks, but if you’re planning to purchase cable you need to know how to protect your team, organization, and building—literally. The YouTube video below provides tips and tricks for spotting cheap, unapproved, or counterfeit cable.

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