Today, the Buy Safe America Coalition, a diverse group of retailers, consumer groups, and manufacturers who support efforts to combat organized retail crime (ORC) and protect consumers and communities from the sale of counterfeit and stolen goods, announced new members representing leading children’s toy manufacturers and sellers.
The Toy Association and the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association, along with companies of top selling children’s toys–including Magformers, creators of magnetic building toys for children; The Lumistella Company, makers of the holiday tradition Elf on the Shelf; Crazy Aaron’s Thinking Putty; and The Queen’s Treasures, designer and manufacturer of premium quality doll clothes, accessories, and furniture–will be joining the coalition to demonstrate the dangers posed by knockoff and counterfeit toys and children’s products that fail to meet safety standards sold on popular online marketplaces.
In addition to joining the coalition, toymakers from across the country are gathering virtually with Capitol Hill lawmakers this week to share their stories and demonstrate the real impact unsafe counterfeit toys are having on their businesses and communities.
“The toy community is committed to ensuring the safety of children’s products sold both in stores and online,” said Ed Desmond, SVP External Affairs, The Toy Association. “Unfortunately, honest and legitimate toy sellers are forced to compete with bad actors that are pushing unsafe goods simply designed to deceive. We need to be doing more to limit these counterfeits and knockoff toys and children’s products, and we can start by collecting verified information for sellers to make online marketplaces safer for parents and all shoppers.”
Counterfeit toys purchased from third-party sellers on the largest online marketplaces have been found to contain hazardous chemicals, be deceptively labeled or can be outright banned by federal regulators, posing serious health risks to children and infants. More than 1 in 3 toy-purchasing parents reportedly do not know that counterfeit toys are not always tested for safety, according to research conducted by the Toy Association last year.
“We need to be taking every step possible to ensure the safety of products made for children and infants,” said Kelly Mariotti, Executive Director, Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association. “Products containing hazardous chemicals and deceptive labels have no place in the toy industry. Online marketplaces need to be doing more to stop the sale of these products with hidden safety risks before they are reaching families and putting children and infants in harm’s way.”
The sale of counterfeit products are not victimless crimes. For example, in December 2018, a four-year-old in Wisconsin was rushed to the hospital after he swallowed 13 tiny magnets from a knockoff magnetic construction tile toy that did not meet federal safety standards and was purchased on Amazon.
“For unsuspecting parents, knockoff magnetic toys and other unsafe toy products are often listed right alongside our legitimate products on popular online platforms,” said Chris Tidwell, CEO of Magformers LLC. “These counterfeit toys not only leave parents feeling duped and children disappointed, but also pose serious health hazards. The bottom line is that online platforms need to do a better job of keeping knockoffs off of the marketplace.”
“We care deeply about the safety and authenticity of our brands,” said Mike Champion, The Lumistella Company. “Yet, current laws governing transactions on online marketplaces allow unsafe and fake children’s products to flood in from fraudulent sources overseas. We strive to create family moments with our products, and we put tremendous effort into having a positive impact in the lives of children and their families. Those efforts are undermined by current gaps in the law that allow counterfeiters to exploit online marketplaces. Makers of family-friendly products, and the families that buy them, need urgent action from lawmakers to put an end to this problem.”
“We go to great lengths to make sure the high-quality products that come out of our factories meet all safety standards, but unfortunately we too often see that online marketplaces are unwilling to do the same,” said Aaron Muderick, CEO of Crazy Aaron’s. “Parents deserve to have confidence that any children’s product they are buying are legitimate and safe for their child. We support efforts to bring accountability to these online marketplaces that will make them safer for our customers and their children.”
“The number of fraudulent sellers on online marketplaces is staggering,” said Joann Cartiglia, President, The Queen’s Treasures. “Without having carefully verified seller information available to Brands, we are at the mercy of marketplaces to remove fraudulent listings and sellers. We are required to police the marketplaces for these bad actors. Consumers, unknowingly, are purchasing items that are counterfeit, have been tampered with, and/or are unsafe. Regulated products need to be represented by legitimate retailers, who source directly from a brand or brands distributor.”
Visit BuySafeAmerica.org for more information about the growing problem of stolen and counterfeit goods and solutions to better protect consumers and businesses.