Help Me Hank: Tips for shopping online safely

DETROIT – Buying second-hand items online means saving money! If that’s something you’re into, we have a Help Me Hank Buyer Beware alert for you.

Before you buy, do some research on it -- because the item may be dangerous, especially when it comes to your kids.

Several entities like the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and Consumer Reports are all sending out the alert after finding recalled products that could be dangerous, being sold online.

When an item is recalled, the company and retailers are all required by law to remove them from sale. Did you know that it’s also illegal to sell recalled products on the secondhand market? Not many people know this. So it’s common to see products being sold on popular resell sites like Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace and Ebay. It could be that the individual didn’t know the item was recalled or it could be that they don’t know it’s illegal. Either way, as the buyer -- you need to have more knowledge about the product than they do.

When it comes to the websites, they discourage the sale of recalled products, but that warning is buried in pages and pages of policy and agreement language. When the seller clicks “accept," they might not have even read that clause. Sites like Ebay do have regulators monitor the website and look for prohibited and harmful items that may be on sale.

For example, the Fisher Price Inclined Sleeper was recalled in April after the product was tied to dozens of infant deaths. The number of deaths associated with infant inclined sleepers has since grown to 73, according to the CPSC.

The problem is right here at home too. Our Help Me Hank team scrolled through Facebook Marketplace and found those sleepers on sale in Livonia and Flint.

The Eddie Bauer Infant Carrier was recalled in October of last year because the strap could break, causing the child to fall. We found that carrier on sale online, in Canton.

The Bumbo Seat is a popular baby item that was recalled for not having a safety belt attached. With a quick search; we found several seats on sale in Rochester Hills, Farmington Hills and Sterling Heights, Royal Oak, Macomb, etc.

Here’s what you can do:

  • Do your research: ask the seller for the brand, model, serial number and the date it was manufactured. Look the item up with a quick search to see if it has been recalled.
  • Check out the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s recall website. The organization even has an app that let’s you type in the product and all the information above, and will tell you if there’s a safety issue involving the product.
  • We found this great website called Safe Kids Worldwide. It actually lists infant/child recalled items by month and year. So take a quick search through there. It’s easy to use and very informative.
  • If you’re going to buy a car seat secondhand, really look at the date on those. Car seats expire and become out of date as the technology gets better. Older equipment can also lack in upgrades as safety standards get tighter. Some also have recalls on parts of the seat, so it could have needed a new part or buckle that the owner neglected to get.
  • If you see a recalled product posted, let the seller know so that it doesn’t get purchased by anyone else.
  • If you have a recalled product, dispose of it properly -- and don’t even think about reselling it yourself! It’s also best not to give it to a thrift store as it may be sold to another family.
  • When you purchase an item, register the product. The company can then notify you if it is ever recalled or needs a repair.

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