Underwriters Laboratories (UL), Northbrook Ill., is warning consumers that Zhejiang, China-based General Protecht ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) carry unauthorized UL marks. According to UL, the GFCIs have not been evaluated for safety by UL and are not eligible to bear the UL mark.

Name of product: GFCI duplex receptacle

Units: Unknown

Manufacturer: General Protecht Group, Inc.

Date of manufacture: Prior to July 2007

Hazard: These GFCIs may not trip when a fault is present and may malfunction, resulting in the risk of electric shock or fire hazard.

Identification (on the packaging): The product is advertised as being sold in white, ivory, gray, almond, brown, and black. The packaging also includes the information shown in the box above.

Identification (on the product): An unauthorized label bearing the following information: UL Listed; Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter; Issue No. B-386,781; E231858.

What you should do: According to John Drengenberg, UL's manager of consumer affairs, you should stop using these GFCIs immediately and return them to the place of purchase. “A reputable distributor or retailer would want to make good on a potentially counterfeit product,” he says.

Drengenberg also recommends notifying UL by visiting its Web site, www.ul.com. Click on “Consumers” and then click on “Report a problem with a UL-certified product.” Once the form is filled out, it goes directly to the manager of field reports and is assigned to an investigator.

But how can contractors protect themselves from purchasing these products in the first place? “My first suggestion is to buy from a reputable source,” says Drengenberg. “Also, if the price seems to good to be true, it could be a red flag that the product isn't legitimate. Another warning sign could be packaging with misspelled words or that lacks a manufacturer's name.”