AG Tong informs public on how to spot counterfeit KN95 masks
The rise in Omicron cases has led to a new push for everyone to upgrade masks to either N95 or KN95 models. But state officials are warning consumers to keep a sharp eye out for counterfeit masks that may do more harm than good.
A quick eBay or Amazon search for KN95 masks will show thousands of options with all different price ranges.
Attorney General William Tong says some fluctuation of price is normal due to low supply, but if it's unreasonable that could be price gouging.
Tong says since the pandemic started, they've gotten hundreds of complaints about price gouging. He said there are a lot of scams around masks and COVID test kits.
Tong says consumers should be careful if they are buying something on the internet that was previously bought and being resold.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention says 60% of KN95 masks sold in the U.S. are fake.
There are ways to be careful. CDC alerts consumers that if you see no marking on the filtering face pieces or if NIOSH, which stands for the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, is spelled incorrectly, it could be a fake KN95 mask.
The NIOSH is in charge of setting the standards and approving companies to manufacture N95 masks. The CDC says a NIOSH-approved N95 mask will always have headbands, not ear loops.
"Don't take risks, with your health I would not buy things out of the back of somebody's car," said Tong. "I would be very careful if I bought on Facebook Marketplace or eBay."
The CDC website shows plenty of counterfeit masks and says that any NIOSH N95 masks marketed for children are also fake.
Officials say to look for similar markings on KN95 masks that will start with the letters GBGB and will have either 2006 or 2019 on them. They also say to make your best judgment call.
The attorney general says if you think you see price gouging or a scam, you should call the Office of the Attorney General or the Department of Consumer Protection.
Project N95 also says that consumers should check the expiration date on the box before purchasing a mask. N95 masks are usually good for five years, whereas KN95 masks are only good for two or three years.