BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A consumer group is warning shoppers to be careful about where they buy their toys this holiday season.

Consumers need to protect themselves against sellers on popular third-party websites such as Amazon, Walmart Marketplace and eBay offering counterfeit toys with potentially hazardous materials or items that have been recalled, according to a new report from the Maryland Public Interest Research Group Foundation.

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In its 36th annual “Trouble in Toyland” report, the group advises shoppers to research independent sellers and read their reviews, and to look up second-hand toys on to see if they’ve been recalled.

“The handful of greedy Grinches who are putting children at risk to put more money in their pockets have hearts two sizes too small,” said Rishi Shah, Maryland PIRG Foundation’s Advocate. “We need a concerted effort by federal regulators and toy vendors to keep dangerous toys off the market. And, while it’s not fair that gift-buyers need to keep an eye out for these counterfeit or recalled items, because of some bad actors, all of us need to do so.”

Additionally, Maryland PIRG suggests the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission strengthen standards for toys with batteries and magnets, and adopt “a more protective small parts test.”

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A majority of the 13 toys recalled in 2021 thus far could break apart or reveal small parts to children, the group said.

In a statement, the Toy Association, a trade group for the toy industry, said the report “fails to mention that U.S. toy safety requirements are among the strictest in the world.”

The association noted that some of the toys named in the report were voluntarily recalled by manufacturers and are no longer available from most sellers.

“The Toy Association agrees that counterfeit toys lurking online have the potential to be unsafe and should be avoided at all costs,” the group said. “The Toy Association continues to urge parents to shop only from reputable brands and sellers, whether in stores or online, whose toys comply with over 100 different safety standards and tests required by law.”

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The full report can be read here.

CBS Baltimore Staff