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Consumer Reports: Beware the risks of buying second hand

Recalled products still available for sale on websites like Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace

When a product is recalled, you expect it to be removed from store shelves. But what happens when the product is resold online in the secondhand market, on websites like Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace?

A new Consumer Reports investigation found hundreds of recalled products, some of them potentially dangerous, still available for sale. Here’s what you need to know so you don’t put your family at risk.

It’s illegal to sell recalled products, including on the secondhand market, but people might not be aware of the law, or might not realize the product they’re selling has been recalled. But the websites that host their listings should be aware.

Secondhand retail sites need to do much more to put safety first. They really need to track every recall and block the sale of any recalled goods to make sure that it stays out of consumers’ hands.

Neither Craigslist nor Facebook responded to Consumer Reports’ questions about steps they take to prevent the sale of recalled products on their websites.

Both eBay and Kijiji -- a classifieds website owned by eBay and available in Canada -- told CR that they use a number of techniques to prevent the sale of recalled items on their websites.

Fisher-Price said it has “communicated directly with nearly two dozen major online marketplaces, including Facebook and Craigslist, urging them to prevent the sale or resale of Rock ’n Play Sleepers."

Ikea said it had “sent letters to Amazon, Craigslist, and eBay to inform them of the recall” of dressers that can tip over too easily and injure children.

How can you protect yourself from unknowingly buying or selling a recalled product? Whether you’re looking to buy or sell a used item, it’s important that you check Recalls.gov or the CPSC’s recall site first to make sure it hasn’t been recalled. And never put a recalled product up for sale or give it away.

Consumer Reports also suggests that when you buy a new product, register it if you can, that way the company can notify you if it is ever recalled or needs a repair.