LOS ANGELES – City Attorney Mike Feuer and District Attorney Jackie Lacey today addressed the serious safety threats posed by counterfeit and recalled products. Specifically, they focused on popular holiday gift items such as phone chargers, helmets, toys and car seats. “Holiday shoppers need to be vigilant,” said Feuer. “It's all too easy to buy counterfeit or recalled items online that rip you off financially and pose a threat to the safety of you and your family. As we highlight today, counterfeit phone chargers don't work and carry the real risk of shock and electrocution. Recalled bike helmets, like the one we were able to purchase on Walmart.com, might not provide the necessary protection for your child. The same goes for recalled or counterfeit child car seats. Please follow key tips and protect yourself and your loved ones.”
“The sale of counterfeit goods not only undermines our economy but also may place hazardous items in the hands of our children,” District Attorney Lacey said. “Counterfeit toys, car seats and mobile phone chargers may sound harmless, but they do not go through the same vigorous safety checks as legitimate items. As a result, they may endanger the health and safety of our loved ones.”
Joined by representatives from Homeland Security Investigations, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, LAPD, LA County Sheriff, LA County Department of Health Services and safety-certification company UL, Feuer and Lacey warned that counterfeit items, like fake phone chargers, rarely meet industry safety standards necessary to protect users. Recently, UL tested 400 counterfeit chargers and found a 99% failure rate. All but three failed basic safety tests and were hazards for electrocution and shock. In 2018, the City Attorney’s Office partnered with UL and Apple to prosecute civil enforcement actions against downtown merchants selling counterfeit iPhone chargers.
Discounted prices are a sign that the products are likely counterfeit. Among the other tips they shared to help holiday shoppers avoid possible counterfeit or recalled items:
Consider buying from a brick-and-mortar store, or online directly from a manufacturer.
Check labels. Legitimate items have safety and other labels attached to indicate they have passed testing requirements and are in compliance with applicable industry standards.
If the price of an item seems too good to be true, it may be. Check competitor prices, and be wary that products with below-market prices may be counterfeit or recalled.
Be careful to examine the quality of a product. Flimsy or poorly printed packaging, missing stickers or trademarks, misspelled or abnormally large logos, and component parts that appear cheap or broken can all signal an item is counterfeit.
And to verify that products haven’t been recalled, check the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission website.
For helmets, the U.S. Consumer Protection Safety Commission, which regulates them, said, “Helmets and safety gear are a must. Helmets should fit properly and be worn at all times. Consumers should beware of bicycle helmets that do not have a label indicating they meet CPSC’s mandatory safety standard because they may not protect your head in a crash.”
In addition, these statements must be present on helmets:
Complies with U.S. CPSC Safety Standard for Bicycle Helmets for Persons Age 5 and Older, or Complies with U.S. CPSC Safety Standard for Bicycle Helmets for Persons Age 1 and Older (Extended Head Coverage).
They should also include the name, address and telephone number of the manufacturer or importer. And for kids under the age of 5, it must specifically say “…is safe for persons age 1 and older.”
For car seats, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), urges consumers to avoid using or purchasing those that do not meet federal safety standards. They have identified the following “telltale signs" of potential safety issues:
Car seats without lower anchor attachments;
Car seats without proper labeling;
Car seats lacking a chest clip, or only secured by a seat belt crossed over the seat and not correctly installed.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website provides a wealth of further resources, including a Car Seats and Booster Seats section, an ease-of-use car seat ratings section and an online checker for car seat recalls. NHTSA also encourages consumers to register their car seats in order to receive recalls and safety notices from car seat manufacturers, and to sign up to receive e-mail alerts from NHTSA about car seat and booster seat recalls. Additionally, NHTSA encouraged consumers to report suspected safety issues and concerns about car seats or other child restraints to its Vehicle Safety Hotline by filing a non-vehicle complaint or by calling (888) 327-4236.
Consumers who would like FREE assistance with their car seat installation can make an appointment by calling LAPD's Child Safety Seat Coordinator at (818) 644-8143 or with the NHTSA, which also offers Spanish-speaking technicians.
Residents with information regarding the sale of counterfeit or recalled phone chargers, bicycle helmets, or car seats are urged to contact the Los Angeles City Attorney's Office online or by calling 213-978-8070.
Watch the livestream of the press conference on Facebook.