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FBI warning: How to spot dangerous counterfeit batteries

We’ve long been conditioned to separate recyclables from regular trash and sort plastics, glass, metal and paper. But some items, such as batteries and lighters, don’t belong in your recycle bin or trashcan. Tap or click here for 10 things that are illegal to throw away.

Think about how many things in your home are powered by batteries. Everything from your wireless mouse to your TV remote to your smartphone needs batteries. And while batteries come in various sizes and types, they should all perform the same function: power your devices safely.

That’s not always the case. Counterfeit or low-quality batteries perform poorly and pose a hazard to your devices and your safety. The FBI has stepped in to warn about the dangers of these batteries. Here’s what to look out for.

Here’s the backstory

The FBI is issuing a PSA regarding counterfeit battery scams. Crooks are leveraging the vulnerabilities in the global supply chain and the public’s continuing need for new batteries to sell a wide variety of counterfeits or unauthorized replicas online.

Batteries from major brands undergo rigorous testing to ensure they’re safe for use. Counterfeit batteries don’t have the same standards (if tested at all).

Original equipment manufacturers (OEM) will let you know what size and type of battery to use, deduced through testing. Using the recommended battery is essential, whether for your flashlight or cordless drill.

Using anything other than the recommended battery can perform poorly or damage your device. Even worse, the wrong battery can cause overheating, leading to fires or explosions.

The risk is incredibly high with lithium-ion batteries, which power most smartphones and many other common devices. Tap or click here to see how a lithium-ion battery caused a massive four-alarm fire.

Even if you use the correct type of battery, it’s risky to use a low-quality or poorly manufactured one.

How to spot counterfeit batteries

Here’s how to avoid falling victim to the dangers of low-quality or counterfeit batteries:

  • Check the seller: Whether you’re buying online or at a store, use a reputable seller. Authorized dealers and the manufacturers themselves are your safest bet. You can also trust major brick-and-mortar stores for legitimate batteries but stay away from dollar stores.
  • Avoid the aftermarket: Third-party suppliers can’t always be trusted. They may sell counterfeit, old or used batteries that appear safe. Read reviews before making any battery purchases from these sellers, but getting your batteries elsewhere is better.
  • Check the packaging: Poor packaging, misprinted labels and spelling errors are red flags to watch out for. These are counterfeit and should not be used.
  • Compare prices, but don’t go too cheap: It’s nice to get a bargain, but if a deal is too good to be true, don’t go for it. Those batteries are likely knockoffs or poorly made.
  • Check the official site: You can check some manufacturers’ websites to determine if you have a counterfeit product.
  • Look for the warning signs: Stop using any batteries if you notice swelling, change in color, leaking or strange noises.
  • Avoid the heat: Don’t leave batteries in the sun or near a heat source.

Keep reading

Smartphone charging mistakes you’re making and how to fix them

The holy grail of batteries is almost here

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