CHRISTMAS shoppers are being warned to watch out for fake toys for sale, including LOL Surprise! Dolls and teddy bears, that can be potentially dangerous.
Counterfeit toys that have been seized by authorities have been found to contain toxic materials, damage hearing and pose choking or strangulation hazards, reports Local Government Association.
LGA represents local councils in England and Wales who each manage the trading standards in their district.
Toys recently seized by trading standards teams include more than 54,000 "cute but deadly" teddy bears, which posed a choking hazard, and electric scooters with no safety documentation.
Worryingly, the teams also found audio items that exceeded legal decibel limits for toys which could damage a child's hearing.
Fake versions of popular toys, such as L.O.L Surprise! Dolls, have been found to contain phthalates, a chemical which can damage the liver, kidneys, lungs and reproductive system.
Staffordshire County Council seized 17 different types of LOL! Surprise toys that cost around £3 each, despite retailing for up to £35 each from the mainstream retailers.
Latest figures show that more than 4.2million counterfeit products, including toys, worth £21 million were seized by councils in 2018-19, with scammers cashing in the most at Christmastime.
Shoppers should look for the authentic CE mark on toys or their packaging, which confirms they meet consumer safety standards.
It also wants the CE mark to be clearly included in the product description on websites to help online shoppers make informed choice before parting with their cash.
How to spot fake toys
HERE are the tell-tale signs that a toy you've bought or are about to buy might be fake, according to the LGA:
- Look for the CE mark, which indicates that it's passed safety regulatory checks,
- Look out for grammar and spelling errors on packaging,
- If in doubt, check for markings from the manufacturers. For example, genuine LOL! Surprise Products should have MGA Entertainment Inc or MGA on the outside of the packaging,
- Buy from well-known and reputable outlets, and resist cheap offers that look too good to be true,
- If in any doubt refer to official website for the manufacturer and compare the packaging, colours and descriptions with authentic merchandise.
Anyone with information about suspected fake goods can report it to their local council via the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 03454 04 05 06.
The groups is also warning customers not to fall for online deals that offer next day delivery for toys that have sold out at mainstream retailers, as often they don't exist and they'll be left out of pocket
Councillor Simon Blackburn, chair of the LGA’s safer and stronger communities board, said: "Bargain hunters need to be aware that fake, substandard toys can break and cause injuries or pose choking hazards, toxic materials can cause burns and serious harm, while illegal electrical toys can lead to fires or electrocution.
"It's not unusual for rogue sellers to cash in on desperate shoppers by selling fake versions of ‘must-have’ toys sold out in well-known retailers, or claim to have them in stock on their website when they actually don’t exist.
"Not only is selling fake toys a crime, it harms and ruins the reputation of genuine traders, costs the economy millions in lost tax revenue and often funds organised crime."
The festive season always seems to catch shoppers out – one mum was left mortified as "Hatchimal" bought for her two-year old daughter turned out to be a fake that makes sex noises.
Last year, it was revealed that dangerous fake toys are on the rise with thousands flooding into Britain.
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