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Recalled products: How to stay informed

June 27, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
Even though millions of products have been recalled this year, all too many are still in use. A recent survey shows why many people are unaware of the recalls.

The product registration card comes with just about every product sold in the U.S., but it's one thing most people ignore and that could be the difference between owning a safe product and one that's dangerous.

Since her son was born, Monique Sock has bought a lot of baby gear, but what she didn't do was mail in the manufacturer's product registration cards so that she'd be notified of any recalls.

"I didn't want them to use it to market to me or send me junk mail," she said.

Sock is not the only one who doesn't send in registration cards. A Consumer Reports National Research Center survey found more than a third of people never do.

"Being aware of recall information can be a matter of life and death. There have been dozens of deaths and hundreds of injuries associated with recalled products," said Don Mays of Consumer Reports.

Last year, the Consumer Product Safety Commission announced 428 recalls, including everything from lawn mowers to Rachel Ray tea kettles to flammable women's robes. The majority were children's products, like cribs, strollers and car seats.

"It's really important to fill out product registration cards for all your products. You don't have to fill out personal or financial information. Just give them your contact information," Mays said.

In fact, the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act now forbids companies that make infant and toddler products from using the information for any purpose other than a product recall or safety alert.

Some companies like Costco are taking extra steps, like maintaining purchase records, so they can contact customers directly about recalls.

Sock said from now on, she's going to make a point of sending in product registration cards.

"Knowing that a manufacturer would let me know if there's a problem with a product, I'm more than happy to give them my information," she said.

Even if you can't find the registration card that came with the product you bought, you can still go online and register. Just be sure to have on hand the product serial number and the date and place you bought the product.

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