6 Ways to Protect Children from Counterfeit Toys
In the Pandemic-era, more people are shopping online than ever to avoid crowds, especially during the holiday season. The supply chain crisis has caused product shortages making it difficult to find items online and in-stores. This has increased demand for popular products and opened a huge opportunity for counterfeiters to take advantage of parents’ desperate to buy toys their children are wanting.
A recent survey by OnePoll on behalf of The Toy Association shows that nearly two-thirds of U.S. parents would purchase a knock-off/counterfeit toy if the genuine article was not available, or if a knock-off was cheaper.
Counterfeiters are looking to make financial gains; product safety standards are just another corner to cut on their way to the marketplace. “Knock-offs” put children in danger. Pieces can break off, becoming a choking hazard. Materials may contain toxic chemicals such as lead and phthalates. Electronics can be missing critical safety features like insulation and even safety fuses, becoming a fire hazard.
With young children putting things in their mouths, handing a child a counterfeit toy could cause major harm. The Consumer Product Safety Commission reported that in 2020 almost 200,000 children were sent to the emergency room for toy-related injuries. It’s unknown how many of these injuries were caused by counterfeit toys.
The U.S. PIRG Education Fund released its annual toy safety report “Trouble in Toyland” stating that some large online marketplaces, such as Amazon, eBay, and Etsy, can be especially confusing for shoppers to navigate. These sites carry products made and sold by unverified third-party vendors, which can lead unsuspecting buyers to inadvertently purchase a fake.
How consumers can reduce the risk of counterfeit toys
It’s frightening that a child could get sick or injured from a counterfeit toy. It’s not worth the risk of buying a toy you’re unsure is authentic. Put safety first, even if that means spending extra money on a legitimate product or waiting until it becomes available again from a reputable seller.
If you’re unsure if a product is real, follow these tips to keep kids safe all year round:
- Shop only from trustworthy sellers or traditional retailers. Rest knowing the toys you purchase are in compliance with safety standards required by law.
- Purchase directly from the toy’s brand website.
- Read customer reviews from both the product and the seller to know if you can trust what you’re buying. Be aware that if a seller is an online counterfeiter that their reviews can also be fake. Look for bad grammar and photoshopped images.
- When the product arrives check the quality of the product. Make sure there are not any damaged parts that could turn into a choking hazard.
- Contact the brand’s customer service with questions if you’re still unsure.
- If it seems too good to be true, then it usually is. If a product is in high demand and is out of stock everywhere don’t be desperate and buy from an untrusted seller. If the product seems too cheap, it’s probably fake. Purchasing questionable products are not worth the risk.
Counterfeiting is one of the world’s most persistent problems. The counterfeiting industry is estimated to be the 6th largest economy in the world. With the boom in e-commerce, rogue sellers have become even more aggressive. Brands must start product authentication initiatives that help their consumers identify which products are real and which are fake.
VerifyMe is a leader in product authentication, consumer engagement, and brand protection. Learn about how to use overt and covert technology to prevent counterfeiting in the VerifyMe blog.