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U.S. regulators recall 1M Samsung smartphones due to fire hazard

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Latest MoneyWatch headlines 01:04

Nearly a week after warning U.S. consumers to stop using the new Galaxy Note 7 smartphones made by Samsung Electronics, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced a recall of about 1 million of the high-end devices because of serious fire and burn hazards. 

This is “such a serious fire hazard I urge all consumers to take advantage of this recall right away,” Elliot Kaye, chairman of the CPSC told a news conference late Thursday. “Last week the public heard our message to power down the phone. This week’s message is go get a replacement or a refund.” 

Lithium battery dangers 01:46

Samsung has received 92 reports of the lithium-ion batteries  overheating in the U.S., including 26 reports of burns and 55 of property damage from fires in cars and a garage, the agency said.

Samsung, which stopped selling the devices about two weeks ago, told regulators the phone’s battery was slightly too big for its compartment and was at risk of short-circuiting as a result, Kaye said.

The recall places Samsung, the world’s largest manufacturer of smartphones, in a dicey spot as it vies to compete with Apple (AAPL) and its wildly popular iPhone.  

The FAA, which previously told consumers not to use the phones on airplanes, said individuals can only travel by aircraft with the devices if they are turned off and disconnected from any chargers. 

The agency also said the recalled devices could not be stored in checked luggage.

Battery fire risk on flights 03:01

“Our primary concern is always public safety. Anyone who chooses to travel with a recalled devices must take precautions to ensure its safe handling,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said on Thursday.

The South Korean company said it was working with the CPSC after announcing an exchange program for devices nearly two weeks ago. 

The agency advised consumers to contact their wireless carrier or a Samsung retail outlet to get a new, free phone with a different battery, a refund or a replacement device.

The recall involves phones purchased before Sept. 15, 2016.   

To determine if their devices were part of the recall, consumers were advised to locate a number on the back of the smartphones and call Samsung toll-free at 844-365-6197 or enter the number into an online registration site:

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