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Verizon recalls cell phone batteries

The batteries, some of which may be fake, have caused minor fires and injuries.

Verizon Wireless has recalled 50,000 cell phone batteries, some of which may be counterfeit, after reports suggesting that they may cause minor fires and injuries.

The TM-510 batteries, which carry the LG Mobile Phones brand, don't have the circuitry normally installed to prevent overcharging, according to a notice from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, which issued the recall with Verizon. When they are charged, the batteries can overheat, posing a fire and burn hazard to users, according to the notice, issued Thursday.

There have been 18 such incidents, all involving batteries purchased separately from the phones as spares or replacements, Verizon said. In some events, the phones became hot enough to sear the seats and floorboards in a car or cause a minor personal injury, the company added.

This is the second recall in the United States this year related to cell phones overheating, and both involve Verizon Wireless models. The incidents raise health-related concerns over handsets, which are already the subject of scientific speculation regarding cancer risks.

LG Mobile Phones said on Friday that it has traced the source of the counterfeit batteries and has initiated legal action against a U.S. importer. "These counterfeit batteries are not manufactured by LG but illegally bear the LG trademark and closely resemble actual LG batteries," the company said.

LG also said it is working with government agencies to stem the flow of counterfeit batteries into the United States. The company plans to add authentication software and/or labels to verify a battery's authenticity.

The recalled batteries were sold in LG TM-510 handsets between April 2001 and December 2002 through Verizon's retail stores and Web site. They were also offered separately from August 2002 to November 2003. They have a manufacturer/date code of "AEMLLL 02220", "AEMMHH 02220," "AEMLLL 02X25H" or "AEMMHH 02725", found on the battery below the words "Model/Modelo" or "LG."

Verizon is advising people who think that they might have an affected battery to stop using or charging their phone. They can go online or call 888-351-2121 between 9 a.m. and 8 p.m. ET Monday through Friday for more information. The company is also sending letters to affected customers.