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For consumers contacted by a CPSC investigator

Why is an investigator contacting me?

Investigators are responsible for documenting potential product safety incidents to produce comprehensive and objective reports.  These reports are used by CPSC to:

  • Begin new investigations into potential product safety hazards
  • Support existing investigations
  • Analyze ways to improve product safety
  • Determine if a product should be recalled

If you have an issue with a product that could pose a safety hazard, the information you share with a Product Safety Investigator is extremely valuable and could save lives.

What kinds of incidents does CPSC investigate?

Product safety incident investigations, include, but are not limited to:

  • Fires (with property damage, deaths and/or injuries) and potential fires;
  • Children’s deaths/injuries (e.g., cribs, blinds, toys, bicycles)
  • Death/injuries from power equipment (e.g., lawn tractors, tools, portable amusement rides)
  • Death/injuries from portable generators (carbon monoxide)
  • Drownings (residential and public pools)

I’ve been contacted by a CPSC Investigator. What happens now?

Generally, the investigator will visit the site of the incident and interview you about what happened. However, some interviews are done by phone. Interviews may include questions about:

  • Your interaction and history with the product before the incident;
  • What was happening before the incident, or what led to the incident;
  • Any information on environmental and behavioral factors related to the incident; and
  • In some circumstances, collection of the failed product for scientific evaluation.

The Investigator will also request to obtain copies of various records related to the incident. For example:

  • Purchase receipts, repairs, insurance investigation reports, product manuals;
  • Law enforcement and fire department reports;
  • EMS reports, hospital emergency room and other medical records; and
  • Medical examiner reports.

Will I find out about the results of the investigation?

The Investigator you meet will not be able to tell you the results of the investigation because investigators are simply the information-gathering arm of the CPSC. You can request a copy of the investigation report completed by the Investigator by making a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. You can ask the Investigator for the assignment number, and use that number in your FOIA request. Investigations may result in corrective actions. Headquarters staff negotiates corrective actions with companies, and these corrective actions may lead to product recalls. Sign up to be notified about product recalls.

How do I verify the identity of an Investigator?

If you meet in person, the Investigator will show you their badge and credentials. CPSC can also verify the identity of any Investigator. If you are contacted by an Investigator and would like to verify their credentials, please call our toll-free hotline at: 1-800-638-2772. Hotline staff will ask for your contact information and the name of the Investigator. You will be contacted within 1- to 2-business days by a representative who will verify the Investigator’s identity.

How does CPSC learn about product safety incidents?

Most incident investigations result from consumer complaints received through CPSC’s hotline and SaferProducts.gov. Incidents also come in through CPSC’s National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS) database, news media, medical examiners, fire and police departments, state health departments, and companies that report incidents directly to CPSC.

I’ve been contacted regarding a recalled product. How was my name obtained?

When companies recall products that pose safety hazards, these companies may contact consumers individually, when direct contact information is available. You may also receive a phone call or an email from a CPSC Investigator to confirm that you are aware of the recall. Please reply to this inquiry, and feel free to raise any issues about the recall when you speak with or email the Investigator.

How do I report an unsafe product?

The first step is reporting the incident to CPSC. Report an unsafe consumer product to CPSC online at: www.SaferProducts.gov; or call CPSC’s toll-free hotline at: (800) 638-2772, or at: (301) 595-7054, for the hearing and speech impaired. CPSC reviews all submissions carefully. However, due to the volume of incident reports we receive, an Investigator may or may not be assigned to contact you. All reports are important, so please let us know if you are concerned about a potentially unsafe product.

SaferProducts.gov