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Bargain buyers and secondhand sellers: Watch out for recalled items

You never know what you might find at a yard sale or on Craigslist, from good deals to ripoffs.

These days, the concerns about scams keep us on our toes.

Well, here's another wrinkle to consider when out on your scavenger hunts: Avoid recalled items offered for resale.

To the vendor, know that it's illegal to sell recalled products, even at a yard sale, flea market or online, such as posting it on Craiglist.

To the consumer, well, just beware.

The Wall Street Journal this week pointed at a federal law signed last year that made it illegal for anyone — commercial businesses or individuals — to sell recalled products.

The question for the would-be yard sale seller and the consumer is, how do I know if the product has been recalled?

"It's easy to determine whether you have a recalled product or not," said Patty Davis, spokeswoman for the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission. "It's easy if you do a quick inventory of what you have."

Easy? There are just six product categories consumers have to search through. But click the links and you'll find pages of products.

It's easy, perhaps, but tedious for sure.

There are categories for child products (not including toys), toys, household products, outdoor products, sports and recreation products and specialty products.

And there's another issue:

"Isn't there a problem with enforcement?" said Bill Newton, the Florida Consumer Action Network. "It's always been buyer beware."

Violations of the law usually result in civil fines. Those sanctions are largely for retailers who violate the law.

But the commission would like people to show some concern for their neighbors.

"Consumers who hold yard sales do need to be responsible with what they're selling," Davis said. "Recalled products have been recalled for a reason: They can be dangerous."

So here's the Edge:

• If you're selling, conduct a full inventory. Before you put out your items for sale, completely document the products with brand and model.

• If you're buying, check to see if it is something that would be considered for a recall and research it yourself. Obviously, once you buy it, it's probably yours, but at least you can know whether it's safe to use.

• Visit the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission Web site at www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/prerel/prerel.html to ensure the products you are selling have not been recalled.

Ivan Penn can be reached at ipenn@sptimes.com or (727) 892-2332.

.Fast facts

Best items to sell

The latest issue of Consumer Reports' Money Adviser offers several tips for getting deals. Here's what to look for:

At yard sales: Shoppers are likely to snap up clothing and small household goods at bargain prices. Consumers at this venue are looking for inexpensive and portable.

Online sales: To decide if you should sell something on eBay or Amazon.com, make sure it's not too big or heavy and difficult to ship. Check prices of similar items online.

Consignment shops: Owners generally do not want to bother with poor-quality furniture or tattered clothing.

Source: Consumer Reports

Bargain buyers and secondhand sellers: Watch out for recalled items 07/17/09 [Last modified: Friday, July 17, 2009 9:16pm]

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