Fire chiefs in South Yorkshire are warning Black Friday bargain hunters not to get duped into buying dangerous electrical items online
South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue claims figures from Electrical Safety First show more than one million people bought fake goods in the UK last year.
The majority were bought online, with shoppers regularly misled by images stolen from official sites, fake safety marks or near to authentic pricing.
Fire chiefs are warning today that counterfeit electrical products are particularly risky as they often contain faulty parts that can overheat and catch fire or deliver a fatal electric shock.
Area Manager Steve Helps, of South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue, said: “Thousands of people will be using tempting Black Friday deals to hunt for a tech bargain online, but we know that these often pose a serious risk of fire. Fake goods aren’t always easy to spot, but it’s well worth taking the time to consider the authenticity of a purchase.
“Electrical equipment causes a third of all the house fires we attend and in the UK last year electrical fires killed 50 people and injured 3,000 more.”
He added: “If the price is almost right, it’s probably fake. Some counterfeits are for sale just below the recommended retail value, hoodwinking shoppers that are too savvy to fall for the ‘too good to be true’ deals. Make sure you do your homework if you decide to buy products below high street retail prices.
“Don’t just take the seller’s word for it – or the reviewers. Beware of a product with solely glowing reviews, especially if the reviewers aren’t verified. Some sites cross-reference user reviews with their buyer database and label those people as ‘verified purchasers’.
“Know where you’re buying from. Make sure you know where the supplier is based, a ‘co.uk’ URL doesn’t guarantee the website is UK based. If there is no address supplied, or there is just a PO Box, be wary - many counterfeit electrical goods are manufactured overseas, where they will not be safety tested and are produced as quickly and cheaply as possible.
“Beware of words qualifying an item’s authenticity. If the seller claims the product is ‘genuine’, ‘real’ or ‘authentic’ double check the source. Most reputable retailers don’t need to sell their products like this.
“Look for websites that allow you to pay safely – these have a padlock symbol at the bottom of the screen when you are filling in your payment details. If you can’t see it, do not enter your payment details.”
For more home fire safety advice visit www.syfire.gov.uk/safety-advice