Gov’t warns local online shoppers against scams

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has issued a warning to local online shoppers to be wary when buying items and services via the Internet.

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DTI Region 3 director Judith P. Angeles said that just like any selling platform, the Internet is not devoid of unscrupulous individuals who would take advantage of others in a selling activity whether goods are sold face-to-face or online.

Angeles also cautioned consumers to be wary of online sellers that have no business name, address, helpdesk, live chat, or contact details.

“Consumer rights are not diluted or lessened just because the transaction is done online. Article 50 of the Consumer Act considers such practices as deceptive when there is false representation or manipulation in a sale or transaction,” she added.

With e-commerce on the upswing, DTI Undersecretary Victorio Mario Dimagiba said that the agency has proposed amendments to the Consumer Act, expanding consumer protection measures which include online shopping and e-commerce transactions.

Republic Act No, 8792 or the E-Commerce Act, strengthens the recognition of online transactions as valid legal transactions.

Republic Act No. 10175 or the Cybercrime Act enhances consumer protection by considering illegal acts committed through the Internet as crimes punishable by law, whether the person is registered at DTI or the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) or is not registered as a seller.

The Department of Justice Office of Cybercrime also came up with an advisory last April 30, 2015 cautioning consumers on the prevalence of online illegal acts such as frauds and scams, misleading or deceptive product advertisements, difficulty in returns and replacements, unexpected transaction costs and surcharges, privacy breaches and abuse of user data and chaotic delivery procedures.

The advisory said that consumers should consider the following “red flags” of an online shopping fraud:

1. Products are advertised at very low prices compared to other websites

2. Online sellers have poor ratings or feedback

3. Online sellers ask buyers to pay by money transfer direct to their bank account instead of a preferred payment method

4. Website does not have contact details such as a physical address or telephone number

5. Website has little or no information about privacy and terms and conditions of use

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