The Fraud Prevention project is a series of education campaigns run every year by ICPEN countries under one theme but focusing on an issue relevant to each individual participating agency.
Through this initiative we educate market participants about scams and furnish them with appropriate information on how to protect themselves from falling prey to unfair businesses.
What do we focus on in particular? We have addresses such topics as:
• deceptive and aggressive retail tactics used to lure consumers into an agreement,
• identity theft,
• misleading advertising,
• legal requirements concerning pricing information and labeling,
• online shopping,
• false lottery and business directories,
• health fraud.
Often our campaigns target particular audiences including the young, the elderly, small businesses and charities, and have a range of community, non-government, and private sector organizations as partners.
Germany introduced the “payment button” to fight subscription traps on the internet: A law which prevents online vendors from using the small print to hide the fact that a service is not free of charge. Buyers must actively agree to the purchase by clicking on the payment button labelled with the words “order with obligation to pay” or a similar phrase, otherwise no contract is concluded. The German Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection participated in the Fraud Prevention Month 2016 with an explanatory film on the payment button and other information for consumers on cost traps on the internet.
This year’s campaign of the Federation of German Consumer Organisations (vzbv) focused on the enforcement of Art. 8 Abs. 2 RL 2011/83/EU (“order with obligation to pay” button). In February 2016, the vzbv was successful with an action brought against Amazon for offering a 30-day free trial of its Prime service using an order button labelled “Jetzt gratis testen – danach kostenpflichtig” (“Try for free now – incurs costs afterwards”). The Court deemed that the order button was misleading and failed to make sufficiently clear to customers that they would have to pay for the service. The verdict is not yet binding.
The Finnish Competition and Consumer Authority participated in the ICPEN Fraud Prevention Month 2016 with a focus on drip pricing. Our aim was to reach both consumers and traders via as many channels as possible.
Consumer Affairs Agency (CAA) conducted ICPEN Fraud Prevention Month (FPM) in May 2016. During FPM, CAA uploaded on its website a public advertisement which was related to protecting consumers from fraudulent or malicious business practices, including efforts which relevant government authorities had made for protecting consumers.
In the same month (May), CAA implemented “Consumer Month” in which consumers, businesses and governments jointly and intensively conducted awareness and educational activities for consumers. “Consumer Month” consisted of various events and programs, such as symposium and many other enlightenment activities. To raise consumer’s awareness of FPM, we conducted it in the same period as “Consumer Month”, with the main page of FPM linking to the top page of “Consumer Month”.
Every year in March, the consumer protection agencies in the ICPEN participate in Fraud Prevention Month. The aim is to educate consumers around the world about different issues, so that they know how to protect themselves and make informed choices.
The 2016 theme is the misleading advertising of prices online. ICPEN is focusing on two different areas: ‘drip pricing’ (unanticipated fees and charges) in the travel and tourism sector and subscription traps (also referred to as negative options or continuity plans).
FPM 2016 materials
- Trampas por suscripción (spanish): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hn8fZUT7Dlg
- Suscription Traps (english): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W4LH4qsYHuE
- Precio por goteo (spanish): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=soLEjbjA2BM
- Drip Pricing (english): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j2XG5aTL5Cg
For further information see blog link below.
Republic of Korea
Korea Consumer Agency conducted the 2015 Fraud Prevention Month during April so as to prevent consumers from e-transaction. We arranged 3 kinds of themes for the campaign as follow.
1. Campaign promotion; In order to enhance the awareness of the annual campaign, the KCA promoted it through Facebook, KCA website, and consumer magazine, etc.
2. Informative content; KCA gave consumers informative contents about case of fraudulent consumer damages related to e-transactions, for example unjust refusal of withdrawal rights in the internet shopping malls and overseas diverse purchases, etc.
3. Third, the KCA conducted an event to attract participation from people. We held the event to fill in the blank related to FPM and awarded selected participants a number of gifts.
During this year’s Fraud Prevention Month, the Federal Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs and Consumer Protection devoted its efforts to an information and awareness raising campaign on selected e-commerce topics and relating problems and risks.
The aim of the project was to give consumers information on current e-commerce-related topics such as online comparison tools, online fraud, counterfeit brand products and cybercrime related to social media platforms (e.g. data theft).
During the campaign a five-part series of articles was published on our website www.konsumentenfragen.at in the second half of March. The articles provided consumers with general information about the above-mentioned topics and mainly focused on pointing out the risks and dangers for consumers shopping online. Moreover consumers were given advice on how to protect themselves against these risks in advance and on who they can turn to for help if they fall victim to online fraudsters or other types of cybercrime. The campaign also included an online quiz which provided consumers with the opportunity to check their knowledge on e-commerce and online crime.
The German Federal Office of Consumer Protection and Food Safety issued a press release in which consumers are informed and warned about cost traps relating to smartphone apps.
The aim was to make consumers more sensitive about the fact that advantages that come with the use of (especially free-to-download) smartphone apps often involve hidden costs, such as in-app purchases, or come at the price of collecting personal data. This applies in particular to vulnerable consumers, such as children.
Consumers are given several tips on how they can protect themselves against malpractice with apps. They are admonished to check app permissions and potential in-app purchases. Furthermore, they are advised to use prepaid payment cards and install anti-virus protection software.
In Japan, Consumer Affairs Agency(CAA) organized Fraud Prevention Month(FPM) with the relevant agencies: National Police Agency, Financial Service Agency, Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, Ministry of Economy,Trade and Industry, and National Consumer Affairs Center of Japan.
In order to maximize consumer’s awareness, we conducted FPM within “Consumer Month” in may, which conducts various projects to intensify the education and empowerment on consumer problems.
We created an extra page in “Consumer Month Website” so that consumers can swiftly access information about policies aimed at preventing consumer detriment caused by frauds and deceptive transactions.
The coverage of relevant agencies’ alert includes:
Malicious business practice targeting the elderly,fraud in financial services such as enticement for private equity, bank transfer scam, phishing, troubles regarding billing fraud and charging by unjustifiable means.
In March 2014 vzbv dedicated an event to the topic: Smart new consumer world.
The guests discussed the digital society of the future. From intelligence services with extensive powers, self-driving cars and digital files of patients, the event covered a broad spectrum concerning the future of privacy, self-determination and technical innovations.
Vzbv emphasized that there is a a lack of clear rules on what is allowed and what not. Consumers need legal certainty and transparent market structures.
Vzbv calls to modernize consumer rights for the digital society
and stands for better data protection and transparent market
In order to respond to the rapidly increasing popularity of online shopping, the Federal Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs and Consumer Protection (BMASK) has devoted its efforts during the ICPEN Fraud Prevention Month 2014 to the support of a project that aims to raise consumers’ awareness towards online fraud and fraud-like traps: The “Watchlist Internet” (www.watchlist-internet.at) of the Austrian Internet Ombudsmann offers independent and cost-free information on recent cases of internet-fraud, provides advice for effective prevention policies and shows how typical fraud-methods are working. Moreover, victims of online fraud are provided with initial help and advice for possible further legal steps.
The Austrian Internet Ombudsmann is an independent organization for information, mediation and alternative dispute resolution for consumers and companies. In 2013, the Internet Ombudsmann has dealt with more than 5.000 consumer complaints, almost half of them about online fraud and fraud-like traps. These statistics have inspired the project “Watchlist Internet”.
In a joint press conference which was attended by several media representatives, the Internet Ombudsmann and the Federal Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs and Consumer Protection informed about recent risks and problems of online shopping and presented the “Watchlist Internet”. Moreover, the Ministry informed about the project on its consumer protection website www.konsumentenfragen.at.
We are of the opinion that the “Watchlist Internet” is a further step in the fight against online fraud and that it can contribute to the strengthening of online competences and online trust.