Local government leaders are warning Christmas shoppers to avoid potentially dangerous and fake ‘must-have’ toys.
The Local Government Association (LGA) is urging people to look out for signs of fake products as criminals exploit a surge in demand for sold-out items.
The LGA particularly warned consumers to avoid fake L.O.L Surprise! Dolls because some contain a chemical which can damage the liver, kidneys, lungs and reproductive system.
Councils are urging people to be wary of turning to suspect online sellers offering next-day delivery.
The LGA is urging shoppers to look for the authentic CE mark on toys or their packaging which confirms they meet consumer safety standards.
Cllr Simon Blackburn, chair of the LGA’s Safer and Stronger Communities Board, said: ‘Bargain hunters need to be aware that Christmas is often the most timely opportunity for rogue traders and criminals to cash in by selling dangerous toys to unsuspecting shoppers.
‘Fake, substandard toys can break and cause injuries or pose choking hazards, toxic materials can cause burns and serious harm, while illegal electrical toys can lead to fires or electrocution.
‘If certain toys are sold out in well-known retailers, rogue sellers may either sell fake versions of them to tempt desperate shoppers, or claim to have them in stock on their website when the truth is they don’t exist.
‘To help avoid buying fake and dangerous toys, shoppers should check toys have an authentic CE mark which show they comply with safety regulations, look out for grammar and spelling errors on packaging, buy from well-known and reputable outlets, and resist cheap offers that look too good to be true.
‘Not only is selling fake toys a crime, it harms and ruins the reputation of genuine traders, costs the economy millions in lost tax revenue and often funds organised crime.’
Anyone with information about suspected fake goods can report it to their local council via the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 03454 04 05 06.