How to spot a fake: The signs your N95 mask isn’t real & where to find ones that are

MADISON, Wis.– As case numbers continue to climb, the CDC is recommending everyone consider upgrading their masks. Tight-fitting masks like N95’s are designed to protect both the person wearing them and the people they come in contact with.

But if yours isn’t real, you’re likely walking around with a false sense of security.

RELATED: Your cloth mask is no longer cutting it; what Madison doctors say you should be using instead

Counterfeit masks are currently the number one coronavirus scam reported to the Better Business Bureau.

Here are four ways to determine if yours is fake:

  1. The packaging says ‘FDA Approved.’ Real N95s are approved by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, NIOSH, and should come with an approval number that starts with the letters ‘TC’ on the mask.
  2. There’s no branding on the mask. The name of the company and the type of mask, N95, KN95, or KF94 should be clearly visible.
  3. The mask is labeled ‘for children.’ NIOSH doesn’t approve any type of respiratory masks for kids, although you can find them in smaller sizes.
  4. The N95 has ear loops instead of headband straps. Legitimate N95s have elastic bands that go around your head, not your ears. KN95s and KF94s have ear loops, but those don’t provide the same level of protection since they can’t seal against your face.

Where to find them:

Pharmacies, grocery stores, and even Home Depot sell N95s, but locally, finding masks in-stock is often a challenge. Your best bet may be ordering them online for curbside pickup, through Amazon, or directly through NIOSH-approved companies.

Click here for a list of verified N95 manufacturers.