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Hoverboard safety: how to spot a counterfeit

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The ABC7 I-Team looked into the safety of hoverboards after about a half million hoverboards were recalled Wednesday by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. (WLS)

An ABC7 I-Team Investigation
The ABC7 I-Team looked into the safety of hoverboards after about half a million hoverboards were recalled Wednesday by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

When a hoverboard ignited in a Highland Park home, it was caught on home video, and caused extensive damage. It's just one of many examples of hoverboards catching fire.

On Wednesday, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recalled half a million hoverboards by 10 different companies because their lithium-ion battery packs can overheat, catch fire and even explode.

"All the hoverboard models, all of the models that are recalled, were made with fundamental design flaws that put people at real risk," said Elliot Kay, chairman of CPSC.

Underwriters Laboratories (UL), in Northbrook, created the certification standard process for hoverboards.

"They will notice on the package itself, the box it comes in, a UL label which identifies it is certified, and very important on the hoverboard itself, would be a holographic label," said Barbara Guthrie, Underwriters Laboratories vice president.

Guthrie said none of the hoverboards in Wednesday's massive recall were UL certified.

"The important thing is when UL evaluates a hoverboard, we evaluate as a system. We look at the battery pack, the charging system, we look at the circuit boards, the plastic materials, the motors, everything that comprises it as a complete hover board," she said.

Guthrie also showed the I-Team what new buyers should avoid. One of the hoverboards she showed the I-Team was a counterfeit hoverboard. It even had a fake UL certification label.

She took apart a hoverboard to show what can be wrong inside.

"You see a lot of metal shavings within this," she said. "They are conducting pieces of metals that can actually, when being run, short out the device. You also see crimped wires."

But most people don't take apart the hoverboard before buying, so it's recommended to look on the outside for real hologram UL labels and to check on the overall durability and look at the manual for poor English.

"First of all, it says 'uses' manual. When you start to see the English is poor you get an idea there are errors in it," she said.

Another warning sign is if the price is too good to be true, you should avoid buying.

Also make sure you're purchasing from a reputable retailer and manufacturer, which have legitimate phone numbers, in case you have problems.

You can get more information on certified hoverboards and the ones that were recalled at the the Consumer Product Safety Commission's website and the Underwriter Laboratories website.
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