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Don't fall victim to counterfeit electrical goods online

Consumer protection charity Electrical Safety First discovered a shocking 1 in 3 UK residents, the equivalent of 18 million people, have mistakenly purchased a counterfeit electrical item online. These people were led to believe that the product they were buying was genuine, only to discover a fake delivered to their homes, posing a potential risk of electric shock or fire.

Millennials are most likely to fall victim to counterfeit scams, as new research shows around half of 25 to 34-year-olds have been conned into buying fake electrical goods online. In contrast, less than 10% of people aged 55+ have received a counterfeit item after shopping on e-commerce websites.

A further investigation by the Charity uncovered dangerous electrical goods for sale across a selection of e-commerce sites, including Amazon, Amazon Marketplace, eBay and Fruugo. The type of products causing concern included tumble dryers, Kodi boxes, kettles, travel adaptors, and hair straighteners. 

Electrical Safety First’s technical experts identified a variety of frightening safety flaws with the products, including a serious lack of protection from electric shock and the potential to cause a fire. Alarmingly, a number of goods advertised also matched items listed on the Charity’s product recall list.

The Charity believes these online sites must work harder to protect consumers from the dangers of counterfeit goods, as new research shows 1 in 7 people have suffered damage or loss as a result of a fake electrical item they’d purchased online.

An overwhelming number of Brits (92%) believe e-commerce platforms regulate and monitor third party sellers to protect buyers from purchasing counterfeit products. Online shoppers trust Amazon the most, with 85% confident that the site safeguards users from dangerous electrical goods, followed by eBay (66%) Amazon Marketplace (65%) and Fruugo (12%)

Exposing the flaws of registration, Electrical Safety First discovered how easy it is to set up shop on e-commerce sites. The Charity created its own seller profile named ‘Dangerous Electrical Ltd’, which was successfully verified after using a fake name, passport number and date of birth to create the profile. 

This is not the first time Electrical Safety First has raised concerns about the issue of counterfeit goods sold online. Last December, the Charity published a report revealing that the majority of counterfeit or lookalike Apple chargers sold online have the potential to deliver lethal electric shock and/or cause a fire. The Charity tested 50 chargers purchased in the UK and 98% failed one or more safety tests.

Electrical Safety First is calling on e-commerce websites to strengthen their efforts in preventing the sale of counterfeit, substandard and recalled goods. The Charity has written to Amazon UK, eBay UK, and Fruugo UK to highlight the problem of sellers advertising dangerous appliances on these websites.

Read the full post on the Electrical Safety First website