International Sweep Day, organised globally by the International Consumer Protection and Enforcement Network, was held for the 12th year in Australia yesterday in a bid to unmask unscrupulous traders from taking advantage of young people on the internet.
According to the Australian Competition and Consumer Council (ACCC) young people are more likely to fall into traps that include advertising on social networking sites and celebrity and entertainment sites.
In the past year, the ACCC Infocentre received more than 2,640 identifiable complaints and inquiries from people under 25. As a result agencies across the globe were joining forces to sweep the internet for common traps, as young consumers were less likely to contact consumer protection agencies for help.
“Young people are more likely to shop, conduct financial transactions and socialise online than other groups. But while many may have the technical knowhow, they can be easy targets for unscrupulous traders or scammers,” said ACCC deputy chair Peter Kell.
“The areas most complained of were goods not being delivered after they were paid for or not matching the online description, attempts to deny consumers warranties and refunds rights and various online classified ads and rental scams,” said Mr Kell.
As in previous years, the ACCC was joined in the Sweep by state and territory fair trading offices across the country, all with one aim – to unmask wrong doers aiming to make easy money by taking advantage of younger consumers.
“The thrill of finding a great bargain or product online can sometimes lead people to take risks,” Mr Kell said. “But be aware that online scams are growing dramatically. Consider some practical safety tips for shopping online so you are the one that ends up with the bargain, not a scammer.
“This particularly applies when dealing with overseas based traders. It can be difficult to get any refunds or help where the law cannot be enforced.”
The safety tips identified by the ACCC include: Not responding to unsolicited offers of easy money or great bargains, checking out companies from an independent souce and reading all the terms and conditions, using pre-paid credit or debit cards to avoid unauthorised ongoing charges, using dedicated emails or pre-paid phone accounts for dealing with online traders and limit scammers, keeping all proof of purchases, protecting your identity, avoiding payment via wire transfer, and using secure payment systems.
For more information on safe shopping online, go to this link