CHICAGO (WLS) --Tens of millions of product units are recalled every year and the ABC7 I-Team uncovered some of them are still unaccounted for. They are baby products and household items that could cause injuries and death.
Most stores have systems in place to keep them off the shelves, but the I-Team found that consumers can still easily buy recalled products, with no warnings or red flags.
This may look like a harmless home appliance. It was sold to the I-Team on Craigslist in southwest suburban Joliet.
Since 2013, there have been 2.5 million recalled dehumidifiers. They were sold between 2005 and 2013 under several brands and have been linked to 121 fires. Images from the Consumer Product Safety Commission show the damage.
The Sycamore Fire Department says a recalled dehumidifier started a fire in this home recently.
"Very scary, I mean I would hate to even think for a second that our house could have potentially burned down," said Jennifer Suchma.
Jennifer Suchma and Paty Hollingsworth said they had no idea the used dehumidifier they were selling was recalled.
"We could have potentially put ourselves at harm, or someone else at harm, is devastating," Hollingsworth said.
The manufacturer, Gree, said it publicized the recalls in multiple ways and spent $50 million to notify consumers, including continuing to offer reimbursement of the full retail price.
The I-Team found this "Baby Einstein" musical activity jumper on Craigslist, recalled after reports of 61 injuries, like bruises and lacerations.
The seller didn't want to appear on camera, insisted she didn't know about the recall and returned our money.
"I'll just throw it out if it's really the recall. I just feel so bad," the seller said.
The makers of Baby Einstein didn't respond to the I-Team's request for comment. After the story aired, Baby Einstein sent an email saying the company is in full cooperation with the CPSC to recall this product. In this statement, Baby Einstein said, "Kids II encourages consumers to review the recall information about the Baby Einstein Musical Motion Activity Jumper made before November 2011 on kidsii.com."
Craigslist says it's policy prohibits the sale of recalled items and that it has automatic systems to help prevent postings and remove them.
But the I-Team found more, including:
-2 "Nap Nanny" infant recliners, voluntarily recalled, linked to 6 deaths.
-2 MacLaren strollers without recent safety updates, voluntarily recalled for fingertip amputations.
-And a Bumbo baby seat, without a newly required safety strap, recalled after 21 reported skull fractures.
All three manufacturers say consumer safety and recall awareness is priority.
"Craigslist unfortunately has been particularly difficult for us. I contrast that with eBay, for instance, a number of years ago we engaged with eBay, they came up with a number of creative technological solutions that they're able to filter and act on potential products, potential recall products," said Elliot F. Kaye, chairman, U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
But the product safety watchdog group in Chicago, "Kids in Danger," also blames the CPSC and companies.
"The recall system does not work," said Nancy A. Cowles, executive director of Kids in Danger.
The executive director points out that companies aren't required to advertise recalls on TV or social media. She says a recent study using CPSC records shows that many companies fall short.
"95% are still out there. Maybe some were thrown away," Cowles said.
The CPSC chairman admits that changes need to be made.
"We see companies putting tremendous resources, time, energy, money, creativity into selling their products, but we don't necessarily see the same thing on the recall side," Kaye said.
The CPSC and lawmakers say they are trying to change laws and policies to improve the recall system.
Since the I-Team started shopping for recalled items, Craigslist has blocked sales of all Nap Nannies.
You can avoid buying recalled items buy running model numbers and serial items of products online.
You can watch more on 20/20 as Brian Ross investigates "Recall Roulette." It airs on "20/20" on ABC7 Friday at 9 p.m.
MORE: ABC News affiliate investigations on "Recall Roulette"
MORE INFO ON RECALLED PRODUCTS:
To check products, visit www.cpsc.gov or www.KidsInDanger.org
1. Nap Nanny
2. Bumbo seats - 4 million units sold - 84 injuries, 21 skull fractures
3. Maclaren strollers
4. Dehumidifers - Huge series of recalls - many brands, including Soleus, Sears, Kenmore, Whirlpool, LG, etc. sold at major stores. About 2.5 million of these units. Since the first recall in 2013, there have been 471 reported incidents, 121 reported fires and $4.5 million in reported property damage
Related release: http://www.cpsc.gov/en/Recalls/2014/Recalled-Products-Sold-by-Best-Buy-and-Liquidators-After-Recall-Date/
Some older dehumidifier recalls:
5. Baby Einstein activity center