The SHOP SAFE Act
Keep Counterfeits Out of Homes
When a consumer buys a product from a trusted, recognized brand, they expect the high level of quality and performance that the brand represents. Unfortunately, a growing number of consumers are being deceived by unscrupulous counterfeiters who produce and sell refrigerator water filters that appear to come from legitimate manufacturers, but in fact are poorly made counterfeits that do not perform properly and in some cases could be dangerous.
Counterfeit and deceptively labeled refrigerator water filters have flooded the U.S. market and are sold through online every day. Sometimes, a product listed at a lower price, and a similar product description entices consumers to purchase counterfeit products which often appear identical to genuine models.
Counterfeiting tactics include the illegal use of brand names and intellectual property, such as logos and brand graphics, which can make counterfeits almost indistinguishable from legitimate products. However, during a recent round of independent testing, the differences became frighteningly clear. The testing identified faults that create serious risks to health, safety and property:
- Installing counterfeit filters into refrigerators could result in failure to remove impurities from consumers’ drinking water, including lead, mercury, asbestos, pesticides and insecticides.
- Counterfeit filters could introduce contaminants into drinking water.
- Counterfeits may damage the refrigerator and the kitchen if leaks occur.
At some point in the product supply chain, counterfeit products end up in U.S. ports. Government officials, including those from U.S. Customs and Border Protection, can play a critical role in keeping them off the market by flagging potential counterfeit shipments. The U.S. CBP regularly announces seizures of counterfeit goods, including tens of thousands of counterfeit water filters in separate incidents in 2019, 2022 and 2023. AHAM has worked with CBP to support their efforts to stop counterfeits from reaching consumers’ homes.
AHAM prioritizes efforts to educate consumers through Filter it Out, a public education campaign run by AHAM and appliance brands to inform consumers about the significant problem of counterfeit and deceptively labeled replacement water filters for refrigerators.
Consumers must be made aware of the risks of counterfeits so they can avoid bringing potential harm to their appliances, homes, and most importantly, the health and well-being of their families. Online platforms also have a responsibility to address fraudulent and counterfeit products, particularly when those counterfeits relate to public health. The SHOP SAFE Act will implement a number of consumer protections. It will impose liability on e-ecommerce platforms when a third party sells a counterfeit product through the platform and the platform has not implemented certain best practices. It will also require brand owners to take steps to help platforms more easily identify counterfeits. A safe harbor will be provided to platforms that vet sellers, take steps to remove both counterfeit listings and sellers who repeatedly sell counterfeits.