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Children's Wisconsin warns of counterfeit car seats across the country

Experts advise knowing who you are buying from and recommend making a purchase directly from a store in person. If the price seems too good to be true, it probably is.
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Posted at 3:41 PM, Nov 14, 2022

MILWAUKEE — The convenience of shopping online is a major plus, but buyers beware, some scammers are selling a false sense of security with counterfeit car seats for children.

Amanda Dassler, a transport nurse at the Children's Wisconsin Fox Valley Hospital, came across a counterfeit car seat in recent months as a family was getting ready to go home with their baby.

"The mom said the sister bought the car seat from Amazon for her baby shower," Dassler recalled.

Dassler noticed the level indicator, a required feature for rear-facing seats in the United States, was missing.

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The convenience of shopping online is a major plus, but buyers beware, some scammers are selling a false sense of security with counterfeit car seats for children.

"We couldn't find the brand anywhere on the internet at all and then we couldn't find any manual," Dassler said. "That was really terrifying to think about."

"I don't think my parents are aware, but it's becoming more and more prevalent," Children's Wisconsin Safety Center program manager Jim Savage said.

Savage said between 50-75% of car seats they inspect are misused.

"If we combine car seat misuse with the fact that the car seat might not be designed to provide protection in a crash to begin with, then we're putting a child at quite a bit of danger," Savage said.

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Experts strongly advised knowing who you are buying from and recommend making a purchase directly from a store in person. As always, if the price seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Savage's team bought a counterfeit car seat from a seller online for roughly $350. It came as a travel set that included a stroller and other features.

Right away, they noticed red flags. For instance, before the product arrived the team could not revisit the seller's listing. When the car seat showed up, they noticed that the required labeling was missing.

"A label that states that it meets United States standards, a model number, a date of manufacture, also recommendations for weight limits, height limits. I'm not finding any of that on the side of the car seat," Savage noted.

The fake was missing a required registration card. Plus, most car seats certified for sale in the U.S. use a 5-point harness while the counterfeit only had two straps without any across the hips or a chest clip.

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The instruction manual that came with the counterfeit car seat was missing information about the manufacturer. It has typos and it did not accurately depict some of the product features.

The instruction manual that came with the counterfeit car seat was missing information about the manufacturer. It has typos and it did not accurately depict some of the product features.

Jim highlighted a car seat certified to use in the U.S.

It included a required line noting it was certified for use in motor vehicles, along with manufacturer's information, and visible warning labels about using the product.

Savage and Dassler strongly advised knowing who you are buying from and recommend making a purchase directly from a store in person. As always, if the price seems too good to be true, it probably is.

You can report a counterfeit car seat complaint to three federal agencies including the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Consumer Product Safety Commission, and the United States Department of Commerce.

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