UK & World News
Mobiles: Phony Chargers Spark Safety Concerns
Mobile phone users are being warned about the serious risks of buying fake chargers as safety experts fear a growing number are ending up in UK homes.
The Electrical Safety Council (ESC) says the counterfeit chargers are now one of the main fake electrical products entering the UK and have given some people electric shocks or even started fires.
"There is possibly going to be an increase in the problem due to them agreeing to sell mobile phones without the chargers in the box and that's to comply with European mandate to reduce electrical waste,"†Steve Curtler, from the ESC, told Sky News.
"This is why we're working with the mobile phone operators and doing as much as we can to raise awareness of the situation to ensure that people aren't lured into purchasing substandard and counterfeited products."
New mum Katie Vines, from Bristol, paid less then £5 for a phone charger online.
It was plugged in close to her baby's cot when it exploded. The seller sent her a replacement but the second charger was also faulty and blew up.
She told Sky News: "I plugged it into my socket in my bedroom, I went off to the bathroom, my boyfriend was changing the baby at the time and I heard a loud bang and went to see what it was and unfortunately the phone charger had exploded into the socket."
According to the ESC, more than four million counterfeit goods were seized in the UK last year - with mobile phone chargers now one of the top electrical fakes.
Figures from Intellectual Property show just under 10,000 phone accessories were taken in by Trading Standards but it's suspected there are many more being sold and used.
Some have damaged expensive gadgets, electrocuted people and even started fires.
Bristol Trading Standards has been dealing with a growing number of these cases over the past 12 months, but said that because many of the products come from abroad it isn't easy to stop the trade.
Spokeswoman Sarah Saunders said: "It is very frustrating for Trading Standards to see these on the market. It's worrying for us also. There is legislation that controls plugs and sockets and that's there for a reason.
"It's there to protect the UK consumers and those that are in the EU. When these products are bought from outside of the EU it makes it very difficult for the regulatory authorities to do much about it."
This week Apple announced plans to run a type of amnesty reducing the price of their chargers if shoppers hand in a fake.
It comes after a woman in China was electrocuted and died using her phone while it was plugged in to a counterfeit charger.
The ESC has produced a 'Safe Shopping' guide which gives advice on what to look for when buying third party electrical goods. They advise checking the voltage and the packaging of the item.