Toy Association Warns Holiday Shoppers about Counterfeit Toys Sold Online

Tuesday, November 9th, 2021

 A recent survey has revealed that most U.S. parents would purchase a knock-off/counterfeit toy if their first choice was unavailable (65%) or if it was cheaper than the original item (63%). These statistics are troubling, since many counterfeit toys don't comply with federal toy safety laws, posing a danger to children everywhere. The Toy Association is sounding the alarm on this safety issue, and other potential hazards, throughout November as part of its first-ever Toy Safety Awareness Month.

"We know the global shipping crisis and associated product shortages are making it difficult for parents to find certain toys their kids have their hearts set on, but as families start checking off their holiday shopping lists, we urge them to put safety first," said Steve Pasierb, president & CEO of The Toy Association. "Illicit online sellers are out there, duping consumers into thinking they are buying the real thing or enticing them with much lower prices or the promise of getting a 'hot toy' of the holiday season. In fact, their fake, noncompliant products have the potential to be dangerous and should be avoided at all costs. When shopping online, families need to carefully scrutinize listings, and purchase only from reputable sellers and known brands, whose legitimate toys comply with the more than 100 different safety standards and tests required by law."

The survey, conducted by OnePoll on behalf of The Toy Association, uncovered that more than half of parents (54%) previously and knowingly purchased a knock-off/counterfeit toy for their child. And although two in three would feel guilty about buying a knock-off/counterfeit version of the toy their child wanted this holiday season (67%), 44% would consider that option anyway.

As families get ready for a fun-filled holiday, it's critical that they follow these important safety tips to avoid buying counterfeit toys – and play safe all year long:

  • Shop only from reputable brands and sellers. Their toys have been tested for compliance with over 100 different safety standards and tests required by law.

  • When shopping online, your best bet is to visit the toy brand's website and either purchase directly from the site or follow links to an official retailer to purchase. Can't find a website? That may be a red flag that you are dealing with an illicit seller.

  • Check product reviews and images. If a product's reviews are negative, or if there aren't many, it's a clue it could be a fake. Poorly photoshopped pictures, typos, or spelling mistakes in the online description or packaging are other clues that the product could be illegitimate, and therefore unsafe.

  • Inspect the product and packaging when it arrives to not only make sure it meets expectations, but also check for broken or damaged parts that may break off and pose choking hazards. If you still aren't sure, contact the original brand's customer service. They will gladly help ensure that you have the real thing!

  • Can't find a toy on your child's wish list? Wait for a trusted retailer to restock the product. Buying fake or cheaper alternatives is just not worth the risk.

Generally, 73% of parents do prefer purchasing products from reputable brands because of their quality or the variety they offer, and 76% make sure they thoroughly read age recommendations on the packaging or in online descriptions before putting items in their shopping carts.

But nearly seven in 10 say they would give their child a toy recommended for older children (68%) because they think they're mature enough to play with a "more challenging toy" and because they think it's safe since they always keep an eye on them.

"Following the age label on toy packaging can protect a child from preventable injury," added Pasierb. "Contrary to what some might think, age labels on toys are not mere suggestions. They are established by experts who take many factors into account to ensure children's safety. Toys labeled 3+ might contain small parts that are a choking hazard for children under 3 or those who still mouth toys. Trust the experts. Read and follow all labels and instructions – always!"

For more toy safety tips and information, visit, The Toy Association's trusted resource for parents and caregivers. Following this simple safety advice can go a long way toward preventing unnecessary accidents and injuries.

The Toy Association and its members take toy safety extremely seriously. In addition to educating parents and caregivers about safe play year-round, the Association works with government agencies and leading e-commerce platforms to combat illicit sellers and has a long history of leadership in toy safety, having developed the first comprehensive toy safety standard more than 40 years ago.

Follow The Toy Association on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter to share play safety posts throughout November in honor of Toy Safety Awareness Month (#ToySafetyAwarenessMonth,