There is a growing threat in Michigan, and it hovers over our children. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is seeing a rise in the online sale of counterfeit child car seats. 

Purchasing a child’s car seat isn’t as easy as you may have thought. I would think that you would just go online, scroll through the numerous options, and pick the one that looks sturdy and falls into your budget. And parents are always willing to budget towards the higher end of the price scale. After all, we want to protect our kids and we want the best for them. 

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So, If You Buy a Pricey Car Seat, You’re Probably Safe, Right? 

Unfortunately, a big price tag on a car seat doesn’t make it a sure bet that the seat meets U.S. regulations and safety standards. These merciless counterfeit scammers could care less about your kid and the more money they scam, the better. A high-end price tag means “squat”. Elizabeth Hertel, director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, warns, 

Parents and gift-givers are purchasing seats from online deal sites, sometimes with high-end price tags. Even parents that do extensive research can be easily fooled by these unsafe lookalikes or tricked into purchasing car seats that do not meet U.S. regulations or safety standards. 

There is a process that individuals, who are purchasing child car seats, must go through. Here are the steps provided by the MDHHS : 

Red Flags 

(Parents and caregivers should look for the following red flags when shopping for a car seat:) 

  • Missing mandatory information including minimum and maximum height and weight in English, model name and number, and date of manufacturing labeled clearly on the seat. 
  • Missing this statement on at least one label: “This child restraint system conforms to all applicable federal motor vehicle safety standards.” 
  • Foreign languages on the label that do not include English. 
  • Did not come with a car seat manual and/or a registration recall card. 
  • No five-point harness with chest clip (except for booster seats). 

 Confirming it’s legal and safe

(For individuals who purchase a car seat that has any of the red flags, there are additional ways to confirm the car seat is legal and safe for use:) 

Return and report

(Individuals who receive an unsafe car seat are asked to let the retailer know and return it. If the return does not require the car seat to be sent back, discard the seat by removing the padding and cutting the harness straps. Do not donate the car seat. Unsafe car seats should also be reported to the following governmental agencies:) 

  • National Highway Traffic Safety Administration – Report by using an online form or calling 888-327-4236. 
  • Consumer Product Safety Commission – Go to or call 800-638-2772. 
  • U.S. Department of Commerce – Notify this federal agency in addition to reporting to NHTSA at 

Secondhand car seats 

If you are considering using a secondhand car seat, use the checklist below to determine if the car seat could be used: 

  • The seat has never been involved in a moderate to severe crash. 
  • The seat has labels stating the date of manufacture and model number. This information is needed to find out if there is a recall on the car seat or if the seat is too old. 
  • The seat has no recalls. If you do find a recall on the car seat, you should contact the manufacturer as some problems can be fixed. 
  • The seat has all its parts. If the seat is missing a part, contact the manufacturer as some parts can be ordered. 
  • The seat has its instruction book. You can also order the instruction manual from the manufacturer. 

If you are unsure whether your current car seat meets U.S. Safety standards, click this link to locate a local certified Child Passenger Safety Technician. Also, here is a handy guide that gives you a rundown on how to determine if a car seat meets legal standards in the United States. 

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