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What to Do if a Product is Recalled

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As a consumer, you hope that the news of a recall will stay only in the news and never become a problem you have to deal with personally. If you are affected or you receive notice of a recall for any product, here are a few things to keep in mind.

What is a product recall?

It’s the process of informing consumers about defective products and what how to repair, replace or refund the purchase. They most often result from safety issues due to a manufacturing or design defect.

Sometimes a recall is for minor reasons such as improper labeling. However, major ones will happen if there are reports of injury or death.

How will I know if something I bought is recalled?

While the process may vary based on state laws and the type of product, there are some similar steps that happen. The company will generally make a public announcement about the safety issue with the product and advise consumers whether they should return or dispose of it. They may also work with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) who will issue a press release and communicate on its website.

What do I need to do?

If a product you own is recalled, it’s important to follow the company’s directions outlined in the notice, including any direction to stop using a product. You may be able to call the manufacturer and get a repair kit to fix the defect. Or, you may be able to return the product to the store or to the company.

What resources are available?

The CPSC has jurisdiction over approximately 15,000 different types of consumer products and works with companies to communicate about the recall and minimize damage. Consumers can sign up for email alerts about recalls on the CPSC site as well as register products with the manufacturer. is an additional resource for tracking federal recalls on consumer products, motor vehicles, boats, food, medicine, cosmetics and environmental products. You also can browse to find consumer complaints about products, even those that have not been recalled.

When ordering products online, it’s also a good idea to order from reputable vendors who will notify customers if a recall occurs.

Deaths, injuries and property damage from consumer product incidents cost the country more than $1 trillion annually. While many consumers will never face a recall, it’s important to stay aware of the possibility that what you’ve purchased may be dangerous. Staying informed about recalls is one more way you can protect your family and be a savvier consumer.


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