Toys get recalled by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and manufacturers if they discover merchandise can cause injury, illness, or death. After recalls are announced, products are supposed to be removed from store shelves and online marketplaces immediately.

But a recent study by U.S. PIRG’s Education Fund found that, incredibly, some recalled toys are still being sold online. “Recalled toys…can still be purchased—brand new—days, weeks, months, or years after they were deemed dangerous,” according to PIRG’S “Trouble in Toyland 2022” report.

In October, PIRG’s Consumer Watchdog Teresa Murray and her team ordered and received 11 different recalled toys from online retailers based in the U.S., including Facebook Marketplace, eBay, and several online toy shops. Some of the same recalled toys were purchased from multiple retailers. In total, PIRG was able to purchase 32 recalled toys.

The items included stuffed animals, action figures, activity balls for infants, musical toys, bath toys, and a toddler’s riding toy. The vast majority arrived new in original packaging or with price tags.

“It was very upsetting and very surprising, to be honest,” Murray told Checkbook. “Some of the toys had only been recalled a couple of days before we tried to buy them. Some of them had been recalled weeks, or months, or even years before we bought them. And they were still available online from major marketplaces as well as some boutique toy shops.”

It is illegal to sell or resell any recalled toy. If a toy is intended for children 12 years old and younger, it must meet U.S. safety standards—and the manufacturer must have certification from a third-party testing company that it does. Even so, unforeseen problems can result once the toy is used in the real world.

In many cases, that safety hazard is not obvious to parents and caregivers. It may have small parts that can choke a child if swallowed, sharp edges that can cause cuts, contain toxic chemicals, or be flammable. Some toys are recalled because they could cause strangulation, entrapment, or falls.

For example, in April, more than 26,000 FAO Schwarz Toy Wood Play Smart Robot Buddy(s) were recalled after it was found that “small parts from the products can come loose, posing a choking hazard to young children,” according to the CPSC.

Before purchasing any toy, do a quick search for it on the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s website to make sure it hasn’t been recalled. If you find a recalled product that is up for sale, report it to the safety commission using saferproducts.gov.

Murray suggests checking the toys your children already have, since recalls are often announced years after the product has been on the market. If you have a toy that’s been recalled, keep it out of reach from children and contact the manufacturer for a full refund or remedy for the problem. Sometimes, there’s a simple fix that eliminates the hazard.

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Contributing editor Herb Weisbaum (“The ConsumerMan”) is an Emmy award-winning broadcaster and one of America's top consumer experts. He is also the consumer reporter for NW Newsradio in Seattle. You can also find him on Facebook, Twitter, and at ConsumerMan.com.