Beware of health and beauty products on auction Web sites

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The National Retail Federation is alerting online customers to be careful when purchasing common household items through online auction sites.

The cosmetics, health and beauty products could be stolen or possibly tainted, the retail industry nonprofit said.

Well-known products found in health and personal care aisles nationwide are being targeted by organized retail crime rings. Such products include Visine, Advil, diabetic testing strips, baby formula and other goods from warehouses, stores and cargo trailers.

Because criminals may not keep stolen merchandise in a temperature-controlled environment and often resell the products online, consumers are left with no way to ensure they are getting the quality they paid for.

NRF’s warning comes on the heels of a high-profile bust of an organized retail crime ring in Florida that may have stolen more than $100 million in health and beauty items over a five-year period. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, organized retail crime costs the retail industry roughly $30 billon each year.

NRF recommends that shoppers only buy health and beauty items from reputable, legitimate retail companies, either in stores or through the companies’ Web sites.

For information about expired or improperly stored medication, go to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.