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Buyer beware: How to spot counterfeit toys or games

CPSC: Many contain dangerous parts, lead paint
Counterfeit toys
Posted at 6:00 AM, Dec 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-10 12:53:14-05

Almost everything is in short supply this holiday season.

The supply chain problems have led to shortages on all kinds of toys, including Hot Wheels, LOL Doll and Mario Kart racetrack sets.

So why not buy a nice knockoff if the toy or gadget is sold out?

The internet is full of knockoffs, but those copycat toys can be potentially dangerous.

Warning signs a toy is not the real thing

Nikki Flemming of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) said her agency is working with Customs and Border Protection in an effort to nab dangerous counterfeit toys.

"The CPSC is always looking – all year long – to keep consumers safe. Especially during your holiday time," Flemming said.

Flemming reminded people that due diligence is important.

"Consumers should start with a seller they know and trust," Flemming said. "If the price is too good to be true, it could be counterfeit."

The CPSC said warning signs of a counterfeit toy include:

  • The packaging looks different from what is found on sites like Amazon or at stores like Target
  • Misspellings or grammatical mistakes on the packaging or in the product description
  • The manufacturer's information is not clearly printed on the box, or there is no manufacturer listed
  • The item is in stock, and the price is suspiciously low.

Risks when buying a counterfeit

People may think there's no harm in buying a cheap imitation toy. However, Flemming says, many copycat toys are poorly made, contain sharp parts, or are painted with lead-based paint.

Some counterfeit toys also contain small parts that can be a choking hazard.

"CPSC's latest toy-related data shows about 150,000 hospital emergency room-treated injuries to children under the age of 14 and nine toy-related deaths in 2020," Fleming said.

Just recently, the CPSC and customs agents uncovered a major shipment of toys that contained dangerous levels of lead. They suspected that shipment could be just the tip of the iceberg.

Consumers should read online reviews — both positive and negative — and try to buy from a major store, not an unknown seller, to protect themselves and others. Consumers can also learn more about the warning signs and risks of counterfeits in the CPSC's News Release.

Bottom line? Sometimes that internet search for the almost perfect toy can result in much more than simply wasting your money.


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8:47 PM, Oct 17, 2018

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