Here’s everything you need to know on how to avoid counterfeit masks
From prices to email services, these are the things you should look out for when trying to spot a fake.
With the current health crisis continuing to unfold, it is now more important than ever to implement strong hygiene practices. Unfortunately, as a result of the high demand for face masks, counterfeits have come onto the market. So we've put together a checklist of a few things to look out for to avoid being duped.
Prices that are too good to be true
One of the biggest insights on whether you're looking at a legitimate product is the price-tag. You'll find the disposable masks are the cheaper option compared to the N95 ranges. To put this into perspective, a pack of 10 SoftMed masks are priced around the $13-$15 mark, with packs of 50 sitting at approximately $60. If you feel like the cost is too good to be true, it probably is.
When it comes to whether or not we should trust an online seller, it's a first response to check the product reviews. In most cases where the mask is a fake, you'll find the customer feedback is overly positive. Look for the star review, which is usually a full 5-stars, and customer comments that seem to lack any average responses or verified buyers.
Bottom line, a medical-grade face mask is likely to never feature a decoration that isn't functional to the mask itself. Bear in mind that this doesn't apply to cloth masks that are manufactured for design purposes. Your P2, N95 and KN95 masks are usually white, have 2 elastic straps that go around the head or ears and may have some product information on the mask itself.
Find our full guide on where to buy these masks here.
The likelihood of a face mask being counterfeit is higher if you come across the following claims: unlimited stock during peak periods, terms such as "legitimate" or "genuine" being used in the product advertisement and that the masks are safe for children. To break it down, the chance of a company having unlimited stock in a time of shortage is incredibly low and face masks are generally safe for kids regardless. The reiteration of these points on the website would be a cause for suspicion.
These can be harder to spot as sellers can get crafty with what they present in their emails. However, you may have reason for concern if the message was sent from a free email service. These can include but are not limited to:
Chances are that the links provided in the email contain malware that may be downloaded to your device. We suggest looking out for broken links and mistakes in grammar or spelling.
Keep in mind that not all emails from companies that use free services are a scam. Many smaller businesses often use the free services, so to differentiate between them we recommend googling the brand directly to confirm its email address and the company itself.
What is the TGA?
The Therapeutic Goods Administration (otherwise known as the TGA), is a branch of the government's health department which regulates therapeutic goods. This ranges in a selection of products including sunscreens, vitamins, prescription medicines and medical devices such as face masks.
How does the TGA list products?
All goods must be entered into the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods (ARTG) before coming into the country. Once registered, the TGA will validate the products listed in the ARTG through the auto-inclusion process. This will ensure that the products meet the regulatory requirements and are able to perform as specified.
A post-market review is currently underway on the face masks that were placed on the ARTG after concerns of quality were brought to the TGA's attention.