The fire service are warning people about the dangers of counterfeit products before the Black Friday sales tomorrow (Friday, November 27).
An investigation by charity Electrical Safety First revealed highly sophisticatedcounterfeits are for sale through popular online retailers.
Last year, more than one million people found they had bought a counterfeit, including must have items such as NutriBullets, GhD hair straighteners and Apple accessories.
East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service business safety manager Mark Hobbs said: “We’re concerned about a growing trend of fake electrical products causing fires and damaging homes.
“Often people see cheap electrical goods as a bargain, but if the product turns out to be a counterfeit item they could be putting themselves and their family in serious danger. We want people to think twice about the real cost of their ‘bargain’, because the last thing you want is a visit from us.
“If you would like further information and a better understanding of how electrical fires can be caused, please visit www.blackmuseum.info where you can view real cases of electrical fires with safety information and links to product recall search engines and other useful resources.”
The findings come as consumers and merchants prepare for an unprecedented online shopping bonanza starting tomorrow. T
he US-inspired discount days, Black Friday and Cyber Monday, exploded in popularity in the UK last year setting sales figures soaring against the previous year – electrical sales alone increased by a third.
As almost 15 million Brits prepare to buy online tomorrow, the charity is warning bargain hunters to ‘shop smart’; the number of reported counterfeit electrics has grown by 12 per cent in the past year.
New research reveals purchasing decisions are most influenced by price, convenience and brand with over a third (35 per cent) of shoppers saying they are not guided by the retailer or person they purchase from.
Savvy scammers are exploiting this, with counterfeit items now almost impossible to spot.
The charity’s head of communications Emma Apter said: “While the sales offer a great chance for shoppers to bag a bargain online, it’s vital they keep their wits about them to make sure they’re getting a real deal.
“Counterfeits are now readily available at the click of a button and despite fake electrical products appearing more convincing than ever, they can contain less than half the internal components required to run safely.
“We’re urging people to ‘shop smart’, at best you could be swindled but at worst you could be putting your life at risk.
“The best way to guarantee an item’s legitimacy is to buy directly from official online retailers.”
Typical tricks used to hoodwink unwitting shoppers online every day include imagery taken from official product sites, fake official safety marks and believable pricing; items can be priced just a few pounds below recommended retail value to avoid arousing suspicion.
Tests carried out by Electrical Safety First reveal that while many items appear sophisticated on the outside, even those with small fake internal components are at risk of exploding in up to 20 per cent of cases, leaving consumers open to serious injury or property damage.
The investigation found fake electrical items are frighteningly accessible online, with well known online marketplaces easy targets for counterfeiters who are not directly vetted by retailers, leaving unscrupulous sellers to take advantage of online sales peaks.
Despite this, 85 per cent of consumers said they felt confident making purchases from popular online site Amazon Marketplace, which ranked higher than other retailers including Tesco (82 per cent) and eBay (73 per cent).
Electrical Safety First is warning the millions of shoppers that purchase regularly, and without hesitation, from marketplace websites that the only way to guarantee an item’s legitimacy is to buy directly from official online retailers.
The charity has created the Shop Smart Guide for shoppers, offering tips for spotting counterfeit items and what to do if you’ve been scammed.
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