Newshub headline with Children's Wisconsin logo
Fake car seat scams Children's Wisconsin

Children’s Wisconsin nurse catches dangerous counterfeit car seat

Recently, a nurse at Children’s Wisconsin Fox Valley Hospital was doing a car seat fit test for an infant before they were to be discharged when she noticed something suspicious. First, she was unable to find the markings that indicate the seat’s authenticity. She then searched the model number and manufacturer online in an attempt to locate the seat’s manual. Instead, she was taken to a foreign eBay site. Further research sent her to a news article showing that exact seat being ripped apart during a routine, 30-mph crash test. 

It turns out the car seat was counterfeit. Thankfully, the nurse caught the copycat seat and was able to help the family get a safe, name-brand one instead. But scams like this are becoming much more common. 

We all know that shopping online can be convenient — especially for busy parents — but it can also pose unexpected dangers for kids. For years, Children’s Wisconsin and other child safety organizations have warned about some toys not meeting safety standards, but fake car seats may not be on parents’ radars yet. Counterfeit or copycat car seats have been popping up more as parents are increasingly shopping online. Vendors sell counterfeit car seats seemingly labeled with popular brands on and other online shopping sites at a fraction of the regular retail price. However, these seats are made of substandard materials and fail to meet federal safety standards set to protect children when in a crash. 

For all parents out there, here are some key warning signs to keep in mind when purchasing car seats.

Be aware if:

  • Stickers on the car seat are in a foreign language or have spelling or grammatical errors.

  • The labels don’t have U.S. height and weight requirements for the seat (i.e. pounds and inches).

  • The car seat doesn’t include a statement about compliance with federal motor vehicle safety standards.

  • The car seat does not come with a registration/recall card to be completed and mailed in with postage paid by the manufacturer.

Here’s what the Children’s Wisconsin Safety Center recommends to ensure your child’s car seat is not counterfeit:

  • Avoid purchasing a car seat online. Stick to buying in a reputable retail store.

  • If the price seems too good to be true, it probably is.

  • Check for the car seat model number and manufacture date. Also, the manufacturer’s contact information should be visibly listed and located within the United States.

  • Feel the seat — does it feel cheap or flimsy? Reputable car seats are study and made of high-quality and durable materials.

Here’s what to do if you have a counterfeit car seat:

  1. File an unsafe product complaint report with the National Highway Traffic Safety Commission (NHTSA) 

  2. Alert the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) 

  3. Complete the form with the U.S. Department of Commerce   

Due to the different agencies that help regulate children’s products, it is important to complete all three of these steps to reduce the chance of future sales. 

While shopping online can save time, having a safe car seat that meets federal standards can help save your child’s life. Children’s Wisconsin and Safe Kids Wisconsin offer a variety of car seat resources for parents. Visit to learn more.