How to avoid buying counterfeit Apple cables and chargers

Apple says its investigation found that 90 percent of into Apple-branded goods sold on Amazon are counterfeit. Here's are some tips on how to avoid being caught out.
Written by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, Senior Contributing Editor

Apple says its investigation found that 90 percent of Apple-branded goods sold on Amazon are counterfeit. This is in line with my findings a few years ago when I purchased a dozen chargers from Amazon and eBay, all of which were listed as "genuine," and found them all to be poor quality, unsafe fakes.

So how do you protect yourself from fake Apple accessories?

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When it comes to cables and dongles, Apple has a support page with information on what markings to look for and the differences in quality between a genuine product and a fake product.

This is useful, but when buying online it doesn't help because you don't get to see the product until it's been delivered, and getting a fake product means having to claim refunds and send products back to the seller, which is a hassle.

When it comes to chargers, it's even harder to spot a fake, and Apple doesn't offer any guidance on the matter. The London Fire Brigade has a fun online quiz where you can test your skill at spotting fake Apple chargers (these are UK chargers so they look very different from the US style), but as you'll see if you take the test, it's not easy.

So, it's a jungle out there, one where scammers and ne'er-do-wells are happy to make a quick buck from selling you a charger that could burn your house down. Not cool.

So what can you do?

Here's my advice on staying safe:

  • Only buy Apple-branded accessories from Apple or a trusted authorized Apple dealer. While Amazon is an authorized Apple reseller, it's all too easy to be viewing products that are listed by third-party sellers.
  • Forget eBay.
  • Use of the word "genuine" is usually a dead giveaway for a fake product.
  • If you don't want the hassle of finding a genuine Apple product, then an alternative is to find a decent third-party product. So, for cables you could buy something like an Amazon Basics or Monoprice. For chargers, there are plenty of good third-party options available from companies such as Griffin, Kensington, or Anker. Amazon's own 9W PowerFast charger for the Kindle tablets also makes a great charger for iPhones and regular iPads.
  • When it comes to MacBook chargers, it's best to stick with genuine Apple hardware.
  • If you're using some cheap counterfeit charger, consider replacing it with at least a decent third-party alternative.

Must-have iPhone accessories (September 2016)

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