The International Internet Sweep is an initiative of worldwide consumer protection agencies working together to combat cyberscams and aim to increase consumer confidence in e-commerce.
Consumer protection agencies from across the globe scan the Internet, and other forms of electronic communication including mobile phones, looking sites which have the potential to mislead consumers. These websites essentially make 'too good to be true' claims, such as get rich quick schemes and miracle health cures.
On Sweep Day consumer protection agencies, including non-ICPEN member agencies are dedicated to intensive searching on a theme which will change each year. The Sweep results in identifying suspicious sites for later enforcement or educative action by consumer protection agencies.
If it looks too good to be true, it probably is. Here are some tips from ICPEN agencies to avoid getting caught:
- Avoid clicking on links to websites that come from unsolicited emails about major financial issues, major social events or natural disasters;
- Avoid promises of instant wealth, incredible discount and bargains, and 'free' gifts;
- Beware of products or treatements that are advertised as a qucik and effective cure-aa for a wide range of ailments or for an undiagnosed pain;
- Read all the terms and conditions and fine print;
- Be very wary of testimonials claiming astounding results;
- Asl around, get professional advice particularly if considering sending large amounts of money; and
- Research the business: Know who you are dealing with. Do an Internet search on the name of the product/company, verify any contact and company details. (See the consumer resources on www.econsumer.gov).
Consumers who believe they have been a victim of deceptive practices on the Internet can register their complaint at www.econsumer.gov, the ICPEN's global online complaint mechanism which is available in seven languages. Various ICPEN consumer protection agencies have access to this mechanism for the purpose of monitoring online conduct and taking enforcement actions where possible.