PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Safety advocates say they’ve discovered dangerous products marketed as portable, inexpensive “car seats” for sale online.

“To me, it looks like a pillow with a couple of straps on it,” said Dr. Dina Burstein of Lifespan’s Injury Prevention Center.

Burstein said the Injury Prevention Center is issuing a warning about the products following an alert from one of its partners in California about an unregulated “car seat” that was brought to a fitting station by an unsuspecting caregiver.

“It’s probably not going to protect your child in the event of a crash. It’s not going to do what a car seat is supposed to do,” Burstein told Call 12 for Action. “It hasn’t been tested. It’s not regulated.”

The portable “car seats” are for sale through several online retailers.

“If parents aren’t educated, they could easily be fooled,” she added. “It’s completely not safe at all.”

All car seats sold legally in the U.S. are required to have registration cards so consumers can register the product with the manufacturer. Legal car seats will also come with labels.

“If you don’t see those labels, then it’s not a genuine car seat,” Burstein said.

Consumers should also research the manufacturer.

“Look at their website,” Burstein said. “Do they have a customer service email or phone number? All of the reputable car seat manufacturers do. If you can’t find them, well that’s a red flag right there.”

Several police and fire departments in Rhode Island and Massachusetts do free car seat checks to ensure car seats meet safety standards and are installed properly.

Susan Campbell ( is the Call 12 for Action and Target 12 consumer investigator for WPRI 12 and Fox Providence. Follow her on Twitter and on Facebook.