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One in three UK residents has accidentally purchased a counterfeit electrical item online, according to a new report.
Research from consumer protection charity Electrical Safety First claimed that some of the most popular e-commerce sites are being used to exploit shoppers, with 18 million people in the UK falling victim to counterfeit electrical goods online.
Poorer quality electrical goods, such as tumble dryers, kettles, travel adaptors and hair straighteners, could pose a risk to consumers, including electric shock or fire, according to Electrical Safety First.
According to the charity, these goods are for sale across a selection of e-commerce sites including Amazon, eBay and Fruugo.
The research pointed towards millennials being most likely to fall victim to counterfeit scams. The report said that around half of online consumers between the ages of 25 and 34 have bought fake electrical goods online, compared to 10% of people over the age of 55.
According to the research, 92% of people living in Britain believe that e-commerce platforms regulate and monitor third party sellers to protect consumers from counterfeit products. Amazon was highlighted as being the most trustworthy site, with 85% of survey participants identifying it as safeguarding users from dangerous electrical goods.
However, Phil Buckle, CEO of Electrical Safety First, said: “We are appalled to discover how easy it is to buy dangerous electrical goods online.
“Our investigation uncovered appliances that were visibly substandard, counterfeit or even subject to a recall, with model numbers matching items on our product recall list.”
The charity outlined a number of guidelines to help online consumers. These include checking if the price is reasonable and checking for contact details.
Consumers have also been advised to inspect the packaging and item carefully, and to look for a legitimate safety certification label.
Buckle concluded that “it’s evident that e-commerce websites must work to improve the way in which they regulate third party sellers to protect consumers from the risks posed by dangerous fake goods”.
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