SAFETY

How to tell if your N95/ KN95 masks are fake

It can get confusing trying to determine which masks are original.

In Summary

•The most common pitfall scenarios when it comes to the distribution of fake masks occur because of alteration of documents.

•with a myriad of choices on where to buy them from and different brands, it can get confusing trying to determine which masks are original.

The pandemic is still with us and keeping safe is still the number one priority, well, and getting the economy back on track.

Masks have become a part of us and just like any other accessory, when you spend money on a specific type, you want to be sure you're getting value for what you've paid for.

But with a myriad of choices on where to buy them from and different brands, it can get confusing trying to determine which masks are original.

Well-fitting masks like N95, KF 94 and KN95 respirators are designed not only to protect wearers from particles but the virus that causes COVID-19 as well.

An image of KF 94 mask
An image of KF 94 mask
Image: HANNIE PETRA

It also protects others from the wearer’s respiratory droplets and particles.

This makes them pricier compared to the other masks, thus more lucrative in business.

The most common pitfall scenarios when it comes to the distribution of fake masks occur because of:

  • Alteration of documents so mask models appear to comply with a particular standard when they don't.
  • Counterfeit manufacturer's names, logos, and model numbers.
  • Counterfeit certification marks
A replica of the N95 and KF 94 masks
A replica of the N95 and KF 94 masks
Image: HANNIE PETRA

The following are tell tales to help you detect if the masks you just purchased are fake or real.

  • It has no markings at all on the filtering facepiece respirator
  • Filtering facepiece respirator has ear loops instead of headbands
  • There's the presence of decorative fabric or other decorative add-ons like sequins
  • It has no approval number on the filtering facepiece respirator or headband
  • No NIOSH markings on N95 masks
  • NIOSH spelt incorrectly on N95 masks
  • Claims of approval for children (NIOSH doesn't approve any type of respiratory protection for children)
A KN 95 mask with a filter
A KN 95 mask with a filter
Image: Courtesy/Suitable-homes.com

When shopping for these types of masks online or from new websites, make sure to check the following to avoid getting duped.

  • Look at the reviews of the site, if it has none that's a red flag as well.
  • Does the seller have their contact information hidden within images? That's another flag to look out for.
  • Are there changes to the items sold over time (high or low periods of the transaction)? Legitimate businesses and suppliers typically sell the same items over time.
  • Look for bad grammar, typos and other errors.
  • Is the price too good to be true?
  • Is the primary contact email address connected to the website or is it a free email account? Using a free email service may suggest the seller is not part of the company.
  • Watch for cookie-cutter websites in which the sellers interchange several websites, resulting in mistakes.

These will help you be able to differentiate real from counterfeit and get value for your money with purchases.