Even when the economy is down, businesses who dabble in scams and frauds seem to do quite well. It is important to recognize these sellers for what they are so that your products perform without the threat of failure. Counterfeiting leads to lost revenue for businesses, which directly influences job loss and the reputation of your operation. In today’s age of advancing technology, it is even more important to make sure your buying is completed with several safety measures.
Counterfeit Electronic Components pose a threat to the health and security of us all. In an effort to reduce the possibility of purchasing counterfeit parts, USBid recommends these practical steps buyers can take to avoid scams and the inherent fraud associated with certain aspects of the independent distribution supply channel.
1. Know your supplier – The more orders you’ve placed with a supplier, the less likely the next order with them will be a scam. Try to buy whatever component you’re looking for from someone you trust — even if you have to pay a little bit more. Long-time, reliable suppliers are loathe to sell bad product to good customers and will tell you if there’s any product fit to buy.
- Full transparency: Does your supplier reveal their suppliers so that you can make an informed buying decision?
- Risk-mitigation: Does your supplier practice certified best processes and procedures, such as source assessment and fraudulent/counterfeit distribution avoidance, as specified by AS6081?
- Standard compliance: Does your supplier follow B.1.2.7 & B.1.3.2 of the AS5553A counterfeit avoidance standards?
- Test standards: Does your supplier employ AS5553A minimum test standards? These include visual inspection, resistance to solvency/part-marking test, X-ray, decapsulation and XRF, with optional electrical testing available.
2. Trust but verify that any questionable electronic components are authentic. Arrange to have independent 3rd party test and analysis available for immediate feedback. Not all scams are easy to detect — even franchised distributors have been responsible for the sale of fake parts.
-One thing you can do is to make sure you guard yourself against counterfeit electronic components by verifying they are not included in the database of suspected counterfeit parts maintained under the Government — Industry Data Exchange Program (GIDEP).
3. Ask for an extended warranty – 12 months for form, fit and function to the original manufacturer’s specification should be sufficient. This gives you time to evaluate the parts and also to get past any infant mortality issues of the part in operation. Things to consider to minimize problems with a warranty:
-Read the warranty before you buy – Understand exactly what protection the warranty gives you. If a copy of the warranty is available when shopping online, print it out when you make your purchase and keep it with your records.
-Save your receipt and file it with the warranty – If you’re not familiar with the company, ask your local or state consumer protection office or Better Business Bureau if they have any complaints against the company. A warranty is only as good as the company that stands behind it.
-Perform required maintenance and inspections
-Use the product according to the manufacturer’s instructions – Abuse or misuse may void your warranty coverage.
4. Never pay in advance – No matter how appealing the job and its purported payoff, keep in mind that sending any form of payment to a third party you don’t know is a highly unusual practice. So, don’t give the benefit of the doubt when someone explains that this is necessary for one reason or another, oftentimes because he or she is located outside the country.
-Make sure the purchase agreement includes language that defines counterfeit parts as having NO (zero) value. Get net terms or pay with a credit card as most credit card companies have strong consumer protection programs designed to get your money back in case of a scam.
-To protect yourself, maintain your control and limit their control. Don’t succumb to the appeal of a quick credit card payment.
-Never agree to send payments to a third party unless that party is related to a client whom you’ve done extensive business with in the past.
5. Check for quality certifications – Your supplier should have one or more of the following ISO9001:2008, AS9100, AS9120, AS6081, ISO13485, ITAR Registered and ESD S20:20 as a minimum, along with a set of test equipment that provides advance counterfeit detection techniques. Service capabilities they can provide should include to name a few.
-Scanning electron imaging
-functional electrical testing
There are dozens of independent distributors in the US, Europe and Asia capable of offering these attributes as a supplier. Use one of these reputable organizations when you need to buy hard-to-find or allocated product. The key to avoiding a fake part scam is to stay away from the hundreds of independents that can’t offer this type of service.
A little diligence in advance can prevent large problems down the road so remember, while it may be impossible to completely prevent the distribution of counterfeit parts into the supply chain, it is crucial to ensure your company and those with which it does business are working to protect themselves and their customers.