Keep your family safe with the annual Safe Shopping Guide
Entering the holiday season in earnest, shoppers are encouraged to review the annual Safe Shopping Guide released by the Illinois Attorney General’s office for information on dangerous toys and children’s products that have been recalled throughout the year.
This year’s recalled products include toys, motorized/electric ride-on toys and scooters, clothing, strollers and other baby gear, as well as furniture and household items. The guide also details the reason for the recall and what action should be taken if you find a recalled product in your home. A significant number of toys and clothing items were recalled for choking hazards, including small parts that can break off of toys or snaps and buttons that can detach from clothing.
Consumers are encouraged to take a few minutes to ensure that they do not possess any of these products, and should keep an eye out for these products on store shelves, at yard and garage sales, and on secondhand websites such as Craigslist and eBay. Additionally, the Safe Shopping Guide is an excellent resource to check clothing and other recalled items passed down from friends and family that pose an unintentional danger to children.
The Attorney General’s office drew specific attention to a popular toy called a “fidget spinner” that has not been recalled, but which has prompted numerous reports of choking with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).
Pieces of fidget spinners have come apart and some spinners include a battery which can pose a significant threat if swallowed. The U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) recently issued a warning about fidget spinners after several purchased online were found to contain high levels of lead. PIRG’s fidget spinner report can be found here.
The CPSC has issued the following safety tips about fidget spinners:
• Keep fidget spinners away from children under three years of age.
• Beware of plastic and metal spinners that have small pieces that can be a choking hazard. Choking incidents involving children up to age 14 have been reported.
• Be cautious of “light-up” fidget spinners that may come with button or lithium coin cell batteries. These batteries are an ingestion risk for children and the larger lithium coin cells can lead to severe burns in the esophagus.
• Warn children of all ages not to put fidget spinners or small pieces in their mouths and not to play with the fidget spinners near their faces.
If you have any questions about products included in the 10th Anniversary Guide or recalls in general, please call the Attorney General’s Product Recall Hotline at 1-888-414-7678 (TTY: 1-800-964-3013). Current and previous editions of the Safe Shopping Guide can be found at http://www.ag.state.il.us/consumers/safe_shopping.html.
Protect yourself this holiday season
With the holiday shopping season official underway, the FBI is warning consumers to be aware of cyber criminals seeking to steal their money and their personal information.
Shoppers should be on the look-out for online shopping scams—criminals often scheme to defraud victims by offering too-good-to-be-true deals, like brand name merchandise at extremely low discounts or gift cards as an incentive to buy a product.
Consumers should also beware of social media scams, including posts on social media sites that offer vouchers or gift cards or that pose as holiday promotions or contests, and should always be careful when downloading mobile applications on your smartphone; some apps, disguised as games and offered for free, maybe be designed to steal personal information.
Those looking to make a little extra money during the holiday season should be wary of websites and online postings offering home work opportunities—they may actually become the victim of an advance fee, counterfeit, or pyramid scheme, or become an unknowing participant in criminal activity.
Here are some additional steps consumers can take to avoid becoming a victim of cyber fraud this season:
- Check your credit card statement routinely, and ensure websites are secure and reputable before providing your credit card number;
- Do your research to ensure the legitimacy of the individual or company you are purchasing from;
- Beware of providing credit card information when requested through unsolicited e-mails;
- Avoid filling out forms contained in e-mail messages that ask for personal information;
- Never click on links contained within unsolicited e-mails;
- Verify any requests for personal information from any business or financial institution by contacting them directly;
- Be cautious of e-mails claiming to contain pictures in attached files, especially unsolicited e-mails—the files may contain viruses; and
- Be leery if you are requested to act quickly or told there is an emergency (fraudsters often create a sense of urgency).
If you suspect you have been victimized, contact your financial institution immediately, contact law enforcement, and file a complaint with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3).