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Fake SD cards on the rise: How to avoid counterfeit products

Posted: 19 Mar 2015 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Toshiba? SD card? counterfeit? SD Association?

Individual consumers and corporate bulk buyers alike should be wary of great prices for secure digital (SD) memory cards: They will find out the hard way the cards are bogus.

The Counterfeit Report recently published its findings about the extent of counterfeit SD cards available for purchase, particularly online from dishonest sellers using eBay, Amazon and Alibaba offering high capacity cards at deep discounts. Publisher Craig Crosby said the cards and packaging, using common serial numbers, are nearly identical to the authentic product of all major SD card brands.

Tests by the Counterfeit Report found that the cards will work at first, but generally speaking, buyers are purchasing what they think are cards with capacities of 32GB and up. Instead they are getting are cards with 7GB capacity. Counterfeiters simply overwrite the real memory capacity with a false capacity to match any capacity and model they print on the counterfeit packaging and card, Crosby explained. Users can't determine the actual memory capacity of a counterfeit memory card by simply plugging it into their computer, phone, or camera. When the user hits the limit, the phony card starts overwriting files, which leads to lost data.

The Counterfeit Report often comes across cards in capacities that don't exist in any product line, and the cards it purchases and tests that are 32GB and up are usually always fake. The counterfeiters make a great profit on the fake cards, and there's no consequence.

Fraudulent cards do appear genuine, even once users have them in their hands. They don't realise the cards are counterfeit until they stop working, and blame the manufacturer for making a faulty product. Buying from a major retailer in their store doesn't necessarily solve the problem either, as counterfeiters purchase genuine items and then exchange them unopened with their fakes.

There is free downloadable software to verify whether an SD card has the specs on the packaging, but it is time-consuming to use, especially for an organisation that has bought cards in bulk. Crosby said the problem isn't relegated to just SD cards; USB and other portable flash drives are also being counterfeited, "If it's manufactured, it's been counterfeited."

When contacted about the problem of bogus SD cards, Kingston said it doesn't comment on counterfeit issues. Meanwhile, Toshiba product manager Jacky Lee replied by email that each of its SD cards has a unique serial number printed on the card. Typical fake SD cards do not have such a serial number or if they do, it is not unique. Users can use a third party app to test the SD card flash memory size, as most fake SD cards have much lower storage capacity than what they claim, Lee said, advising that consumers and companies buy from a manufacturer-authorised seller. "As a general rule, if the price is too good to be true, then it is probably a counterfeit product," noted Lee.

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