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Are You Wearing A Fake Mask? Here Is A Way To Find Out.

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Masks are crucial for being safe in this time of pandemic especially N95 mask is considered safer than the rest of the masks since it has the capacity to filter out very small particles that could possibly contain the virus. It is designed in such a way that it provides a close fit on the face to block at least 95% of the virus particles. It is necessary chiefly for doctors who come in close contact with infected patients. The 3M company provides a really well-designed mask, which is comfortable to wear and provides utmost safety. But many fraud companies started a counterfeiting supply chain of a fake mask. Did you recently buy a new 3M 8210 N-95 face mask to protect yourself from the pandemic? Are you sure it’s not a counterfeit (fake mask)? Find out

  1. Initial Package verification

    If you buy a 3M N95 mask from a local vendor or you order online, first check if the packaging has an anti-counterfeit label on the top of the box. If it’s not present, return it immediately and also inform the vendor about the mask not being an original or real 3M mask.

    Anti counterfeit label on a 3M N-95 mask
    A black circle indicates the anti-counterfeit label on 3M packaging
  2. Thorough Package verification

    To verify the packaging thoroughly check the bottom of the box, for Lot code and Secure code. These codes are present in both old and new packaging. The new one has a sticker and old ones have the codes laser engraved. The lot code and Secure code is one of the key points to check authenticity.  

    Visit  and enter the lot code and secure code to check whether lot code and secure code is genuine or not. Secure code is 10 characters alphanumeric as shown below. Lot code is 6 characters (the first character is always an alphabet, rest five are digits). Lot Code present at the bottom of the box is 6 characters long. It helps you figure out the manufacturing date of the mask. 

    Box indicating Lot and Secure code on 3M N95 mask packaging
    The left box is an old packaging since it contains laser marking and right is a new box since it has a sticker. Blue arrow indicates Secure code and pink arrow indicates Lot code.

    Here’s how you can decode the lot code!

    The first character is always an alphabet followed by 5 numeric digits.
    For Ex: Lot code is D20083, it is decoded as here below:

    First is a random alphabet, next two numbers are manufacturing date and last three number indicate the day of manufacturingExpiration of mask is 5 years from the date of manufacture. Decoding from lot code above, the manufacturing date was 23/03/2020, hence expiration date would be 03/2025.

  3. Inspect the Mask

    Once you are sure the packaging ticks all the requirements, open the box and first look for minor errors in the mask. Compare it with the authentic picture of the mask given below. Mask should have silicon straps. Read the warning on the mask and check for the presence of spelling mistakes. If you find any spelling error it means it is not a genuine 3M mask. Check if the mask has the same Lot number written as that of the box it was present in.

    Graphics of an authentic 3M N95 face mask
    An authentic mask which has no spelling error, has a correct Lot number, silicon straps and correct graphics.
  4. Scrutinize the TC number

    TC number is NIOSH approved number which certifies mask to use N95 tag. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) is responsible for conducting research and making recommendations for the prevention of work-related injury and illness. Every company has a fixed code which is printed on their mask. This can be verified on 

    For 3M 8210 N-95 mask, TC no is TC-84A-0007 

    NIOSH website which verifies TC number allocated to the company for the mask.Congratulation!!! You have learnt how to identify a real mask. Here have a look on counterfeit ones.

These stocks of fake products can come in any type of combinations. We have tried to include all possible variants as seen. Images here are real images which were received through mediators/sellers!

  1. Inappropriate packaging

    A counterfeit 3M N95 mask which doesn-t have a anti-counterfeit label
    No anti-counterfeit sticker present.
  2. Errors in the bottom of the packaging
    No Lot or secure number present at the bottom of the box.
    No Lot or secure number present

    Sticker on 3M N95 fake mask package
    The sticker is fake, it has different font throughout. Genuine 3M packages have the same font throughout.
  3. Making of the mask
    Fake mask
    The mask has spelling errors and the TC number is incorrect. The TC number used here is TC-84A-007 but the actual TC number is TC-84A-0007. Hence it is a fake mask.
    Fake mask
    The fake mask may have spelling mistakes and the Lot number may be false as well as wrongly placed.
    Fake mask
    The warning written on the fake mask is different from the original. The Lot Code is not alphanumeric.

    Fake mask
    The fake mask contains no foam.

We have been through 30 inspections, which includes no stock availability, the middle agent being unresponsive, and plenty of fake stock(mostly in Delhi and Mumbai as of now, can be in other cities too) in the last couple of weeks. 

Thanks to genuine individuals associated in this trading that we have been able to recognize and avoid buying fake stock!

With such fake products, sellers are even producing fake certificates and documents. As most of the buyers are unable to determine these differences and rely on documents, they get duped for so much money!

Please be aware and spread this information with all your acquaintances to let them know how to check and prevent from buying counterfeits. In case of any queries, we are happy to help! Find us on

Swapnil Goyal

As a creative enthusiast he tries his hands on poems, articles, and weird one-liners. His persistent dilemma is whether he loves psychological thriller more or his bad puns. In his leisure, he could be seen logging his thoughts on twitter or listening to some podcasts. If gluttony was a crime he would end up with life imprisonment.

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