These days, finding out whether the products you've bought will lacerate, shock, suffocate or otherwise injure you isn't a simple task. The government publicizes recalls of hazardous products, but there's no easy way for consumers to examine complaints about a certain product and add a report of their own.
That's due to change. By March, the Consumer Product Safety Commission is expected to launch saferproducts.gov, an online clearinghouse for information on product recalls as well as incident reports filed with the agency.
The controversial effort resulted from the 2008 overhaul of product safety regulations following continuing troubles with lead-tainted toys and other hazardous products. According to Consumer Reports magazine, industry will get 10 days to respond to posted complaints before they become live on the site.
This kind of database already exists for vehicles and safety restraints, at safercar.gov.
Beware of FDA impersonators
The federal government is warning the public about criminals operating an international extortion scheme under the guise of federal agents. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said Friday that someone claiming to be an FDA agent or other law enforcement official has targeted people who previously bought prescription drugs over the phone or online. The caller tells the victim that online or phone purchases of drugs is illegal and that they must pay a fee ranging from $100 to $250,000.
The scammers tell the victim to send a wire transfer, usually to the Dominican Republic or Costa Rica. They often threaten the victim with arrest, deportation or incarceration. The scammers often have personal information about the victims obtained from previous purchases, including addresses, Social Security numbers, dates of birth, purchase histories and credit card numbers. The FDA has issued warnings about the scam going back to 2008 and made arrests in the cases, but the agency said the scheme won't likely end soon. For more information, call 1-888-INFO-FDA.
Candle holders could light up
Holiday decorations often end up buried in storage, but if you bought a Christmas tree shaped candle holder from Michaels this year, it should go back to the store. The arts and crafts chain recalled about 8,000 silver tree tea-light candle holders that could ignite because the tea-light cups aren't positioned properly. The candle holders were sold nationwide between October and December 2010 for about $20.
Michaels received reports of five fires and a customer who was burned. The candle holders can be returned to the store for a full refund.
COMPILED BY WHISTLEBLOWER STAFF