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.
Each year more and more member countries of ICPEN implement various Fraud Prevention Month activities. For example in 2009, 29 countries participated in this initiative.
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.
As part of ICPEN's Fraud Prevention Month, the Swedish Consumer Authority carried out an information campaign about scams and fraud. We published a new section on our website labelled Scams ("Bluffar"), which includes articles with tips on how consumers may avoid being tricked and scammed.
They rarely fight for their rights, are reluctant to file complaints, usually do not read contracts and – in effect – their trust is often used by unfair entrepreneurs – the third age consumers – were the target of an educational campaign conducted by the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection (UOKiK). The campaign “Be an aware consumer” took place from 14 November to 12 December 2011 and included 91 free-of-charge lectures conducted in 15 voivodships, attended by total of 4647 seniors. The lectures were divided into two parts: one being a presentation of information on consumer rights by consumer experts and other – more practical one – presenting threats senior consumers may face from rogue traders conducted by psychologists or policemen. The lectures were held in seniors’ clubs, community homes, at the third age universities and other public places gathering elderly people (e.g. parish offices). All the lectures’ participants received publications on consumer law: brochure, leaflet and calendar for 2012.
This campaign was a continuation of a pilot project run by UOKiK in 2008. Due to insufficient knowledge about their rights seniors are still weaker part when dealing with entrepreneurs. "Therefore, the Office does not forget about elderly consumers. On the one hand we create an appropriate environment to help young people develop their wings, enable development of entrepreneurship and fair competition, and on the other hand we do not forget about weaker market participants, mostly seniors", said Małgorzata Krasnodębska-Tomkiel, UOKiK President.
Smart Phones are increasing in popularity rapidly. However, by using their broad range of tools (particularly the possibility to access the internet) consumers often face high bills, especially when exceeding the agreed download limits. The Austrian Consumers’ Organization (VKI) was commissioned by the Federal Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs and Consumer Protection to initiate a special information campaign for smart phone users about the fees when accessing the internet. The VKI launched a webpage (www.kostenfallen.at) where consumers could either just receive information or ask questions (by using a questionnaire) relating to their problems with costly internet fees. As many young people face similar problems the VKI also provided information via facebook – www.facebook.com/home.php#!/vki.recht.
The Consumer Protection Agency (CPA) of Egypt Conducted in January 2011 an intensiveTV campaign in Egyptian TV and in Satellite channels broadcasted in Egypt to address the ever increasing problem of Deceptive Advertisements. This Campaign consisted of four advertisements; all addressing the issue of what constitutes a misleading/deceptive advertisement and ways to avoid falling prey to these malpractices . These Advertisements alerted our consumers to be aware of unrealistic bargains, overselling, . One Advertisement had a clear message to the consumer in telling him/her that “if the deal advertised is too good to be true, then it is probably not true and is probably a scam. “
All four ads ended with an important reminder that each consumer has to always receive an invoice when buying a good as this is the first item he/she will want to have in order to file a complaint should the need to do so ever arise. The advertisements also indicated what should be included in an Invoice to make it a legitimate document when presented along with a complaint.
Scam reports double - National Consumer Fraud Week 7-13 March scams: It’s personal
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission received around 42,000 scam-related reports in 2010 compared to around 20,000 in 2009, according to a report released today to mark the start of Fraud Week 2011.
ACCC Deputy Chair Peter Kell said the report – Targeting Scams, the ACCC’s annual report on consumer fraud – revealed that scam activity remains a threat to Australian consumers and businesses.
“The ACCC’s work shows that consumer scams have become a serious form of economic crime, especially in the online arena,” Mr Kell said.
However, the ACCC Report also notes that more Australians are prepared to report scams, even if they haven’t lost money.
Around 16 per cent of consumers and small businesses who reported scams to the ACCC suffered monetary losses, ranging from a few dollars to several million. While scam reports to the ACCC increased, the amount reported lost in 2010 was $63 million, down slightly from 2009.
”Nonetheless, we recognise that the losses reported to the ACCC represent only a part of the overall cost to the Australian community, as many scams go unreported and indirect losses are also significant,” Mr Kell said.
Online scams remained the largest method of delivery and grew from 14,000 in 2009 to over 19,000 in 2010.
A notable trend was the increase in scams initiated by telephone, which grew from around 2,000 in 2009 to more than 14,000 reports in 2010.
“It appeared that many of these calls may have originated offshore and it’s likely that they are taking advantage of cheap or free voice over internet services,” said Mr Kell.
2010 also saw an increase in scams impersonating government departments or major businesses Mr Kell explained.
“Some of these scams are quite sophisticated, with the use of logos and language that look and sound genuine.”
This year’s focus for National Consumer Fraud Week is on the impact of scams on individual victims, highlighted by the theme Scams: It’s Personal.
“While the overall financial cost of scams is high, we should not overlook the personal toll experienced by individuals who fall victim to these crimes,” Mr Kell said.
Individuals who have been scammed can suffer damage to relationships with family and friends, loss of self-esteem, difficulty in trusting others and in forming future relationships.
“The often debilitating personal effect of scams is why the Australasian Consumer Fraud Taskforce is committed to educating Australians about the dangers of scams and equipping them with the tools to identify them,” Mr Kell said.
The Taskforce was formed in March 2005 and comprises 22 government regulatory agencies and departments with responsibility for consumer protection regarding frauds and scams.
The ACCC has a range of resources to assist people to spot scams before they fall for them and advice on how to keep your personal details safe. These include:
A Twitter account to alert the community to current scam activity
Follow scamwatch on twitter at http://twitter.com/SCAMwatch_gov or @SCAMwatch_gov
A SCAMwatch website dedicated to information on scams in Australia
To download the report visit: www.accc.gov.au
To see the latest warning on scams and read about the experience of victims visit: www.scamwatch.gov.au
Mr Peter Kell, Deputy Chair, (02)92309152
ACCC Media, Media unit, (02) 6243 1317 0408 995 408
Infocentre 1300 302 502
Release # NR 044/11
Issued: 6th March 2011
Targeting scams: Report of the ACCC on scam activity 2010 - http://intranet.accc.gov.au/content/index.phtml/itemId/1268563
The Ministry for Middle Classes and Tourism issued a press communiqué warning about the most common frauds affecting SME as well as consumers.
During the same period, the Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce organized a conference about frauds and scams targetting more specifically enterprises. This conference, opened by the Minister for Middle Classes and Tourism, had a wide range of speakers and some of the documents can be consulted on the website of the Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce.
In order to assist consumers in judging the trustworthiness of online shops, ConsuWijzer - the government information desk that gives consumers practical advice about their rights - has developed the Online ShopScan facility. By answering a limited number of questions about the webshop, the consumer is able to make a swift judgement of the company that runs the webshop whilst he or she is shopping online. Consumers are then able to determine themselves whether or not to deal with this company.
The Finnish Consumer Agency have made new website includes an information package that can help families recognise scams directed at their relatives and break the vicious circle. This were part ofh Faud Prevention Month. The elderly people The elderly are also more likely to be the target of questionable marketing. Telemarketers can take advantage of the fact that after a conversation people may not want to decline an offer or may not fully understand the commitment being made. The elderly may order expensive products which they don’t need or enter into a continuous subscription for a monthly product package.While compiling its website, the Consumer Agency consulted with the ICT Association for Seniors, the Union for Senior Services, the Central Union for the Welfare of the Aged, Suvanto ry (Finnish Association for Shelters for the Elderly) and Suomen Senioriliike (Finnish Senior Movement).
The Chilean consumer protection agency, SERNAC, has embarked again in the the ICPEN Fraud Prevention Month. In this occasion, SERNAC launched a campaign named “Take care to avoid the internet fraud” (“Cuídate del fraude por internet”). This campaign was launched together with the Police and the focus was on the false calls asking for the consumer credit and credit card information. The objective was to enhance consumer awareness against this kind of fraudulent practice or scams, specially where the con man use the name of SERNAC or Police to commit the scam (i.e: the con man calls saying it is the consumer protection authority who needs credit information for a survey, research or a case). The Sernac FPM 2011 included: A particular space on the Sernac’s website; Coordination with the Police for this campaign; Flyers; medias: TV, radio, press (at national and regional level); and activities out in the fields.
In Korea, the KCA conducted a FPM campaign under the theme of “April is a Month for Fraud Prevention Month." And the campaign focused on preventing consumer damages due to fraudulent transactions targeting younger generation in particular. The younger generation is specially targeted in that they have strong spending habits and they are quite prone to be victims of new type of scams through emerging transaction formats such as social commerce.
The Campaign mainly touched on consumer damages using online shopping malls or social commerce. The KCA provided consumer information for damage prevention online and offline at the same time by posting major types of fraudulent transactions and how to deal with them.