BATH | Steuben County Sheriff James Allard is urging those with infants and small children to be aware of the growing trend of “knock-off” car seats being offered for sale.

Typically sold by online merchants, the car seats are often made of flimsy plastic, and may have plastic instead of metal buckles, or even missing parts, Allard said.

The bogus car seats do not provide registration cards or owner's manuals, according to national reports.

“This is one of the worst kinds of fraud,” Allard said. “People buy these seats because they want to keep their children safe, and instead they put their kids in danger.”

He said the Sheriff’s Office is always available to help with questions about child safety seats.

“If you have a question concerning a specific seat, please contact Sgt. Matt Sorge at 622-3901,” Allard said. “One of our certified car seat technicians can answer questions about age- and size-appropriate seats. Remember, if any deal seems too good to be true, it probably is.”

The Sheriff’s Department conducts regular child car seat safety checks.

The next check event is set for 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Thursday -- Youth Day -- at the Steuben County Fair in Bath.

Income-eligible families in Steuben County can apply for child seats for newborns, infants and toddlers through the sheriff’s “Play IT Safe” project. The project is a collaboration between the Sheriff, county Public Health Department and Healthy Families Steuben.

More information on the program is available by calling 622-3911, or online at www.steubencony.org.