QuickLinks - Consumer protection
Issue no. 203 - 19 July 2001
- EU - Consumer Voice Newsletter goes electronic
"Consumer Voice", the new monthly electronic newsletter from the European Commission's Directorate General for Health and Consumer Protection, is now available. It covers the full range of the responsibilities of the Directorate General : food safety, public health and consumer protection.
- USA - Search engines accused of deceptive results
Commercial Alert, a 3-year-old group founded by consumer activist Ralph Nader, asked the FTC to investigate whether eight of the Web's largest search engines are violating federal laws against deceptive advertising by concealing the impact special fees have on search results by Internet users.
Issue no. 201 - 26 June 2001
- Domain-Abzocker schickten Rechnung an Polizei
Das falsche Opfer haben sich mutmaßliche Betrüger ausgesucht, die falsche Rechnungen für Web-Adressen verschicken. Ausgerechnet das Darmstädter Polizeipräsidium erhielt eine Rechnung über 269 Mark (138 Euro) für eine angebliche Online-Schaltung seiner Web-Adresse.
- Net police fail online shoppers
Trading standards officers say much more needs to be done to make internet shopping in the UK safer. They say those responsible for protecting shoppers on the internet often do not know how to investigate online con-tricks. At its annual conference in Cardiff, the Trading Standards Institute (TSI) is calling for major changes to make the UK the safest place for e-commerce in the world.
- USA - FTC Sues Alleged Internet Access Scammer
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) sued the operators of a Web site that allegedly duped more than 50,000 people into paying "set-up" fees and signing over sensitive personal data, in exchange for a bogus promise of free Internet access.
Issue no. 199 - 4 June 2001
- USA - Net porn firm, FTC settle complaint
A Federal Trade Commission complaint alleging that Voice Media, a leading purveyor of online pornography, engaged in deceptive practices by billing consumers during "free trials" has been settled, with the company admitting to no wrongdoing but agreeing to refrain from making "false or misleading statements" in the future.
Issue no. 198 - 28 May 2001
- UK - Online bank data service falls outside FSA remit
Consumers using online services that pull together details from different banks on to a single page will not be protected by regulators. The Financial Services Authority said so-called online aggregators, which have proved popular in the US and Australia, fall outside its powers.
- USA - Feds Charge 90 In Web Fraud Sweep
Ninety individuals and companies face fraud, money laundering and intellectual property rights charges stemming from Internet schemes that cost consumers $117 million. The federal and state charges come from "Operation Cyber Loss," a Web fraud crackdown mounted by the FBI, the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the National White Collar Crime Center (NW3C).
Issue no. 197 - 21 May 2001
Issue no. 195 - 8 May 2001
- USA - FTC Launching International Internet Fraud-Prevention Site
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has launched a new Web site aimed at resolving international e-commerce disputes by allowing Internet users from around the world to file complaints at one location. consumer.gov will allow Internet users to file complaints in English, French, German and Spanish. Specifically designed to address cross-border, international e-commerce disputes, Econsumer.gov will record the complaints and pass them along to civil and criminal fraud fighters around the world. see also U.S., 12 other countries to tackle Internet fraud (Reuters) The United States and 12 other countries will start sharing confidential data about the complaints they receive from consumers in a bid to crack down on cross-border Internet fraud. The countries participating in the project, in addition to the United States, are: Australia; Canada; Denmark; Finland; Hungary; Mexico; New Zealand; Norway; South Korea; Sweden; Switzerland; and the United Kingdom.
- USA - Pair of porno fraudsters found in contempt
(New York Post)
Two citizens of the United Kingdom accused by the Federal Trade Commission of running an online billing operation that defrauded U.S. consumers of millions of dollars have been found in contempt of court and face arrest if they set foot in the United States.
- E-confidence initiative: Time for stakeholders to draw conclusions
It is called the e-confidence barrier: e-commerce only accounts for around one percent of retail sales in Europe. While internet penetration is growing rapidly, consumer confidence in e-commerce and cross-border transactions remain low. The European Commission's e-confidence initiative has been a practical response to this deficit. It has brought together for a first time a range of business and consumer groups with an interest in e-commerce codes and guidelines to build the "e-confidence" of consumers. Initiated in May 2000, stakeholders such as BEUC, UNICE and GBDe members will meet for the last time under the umbrella of the e-confidence initiative to draw conclusions on general principles as an agreed basis for good practice in e-commerce.
Issue no. 193 - 3 April 2001
Issue no. 192 - 26 March 2001
- Australian websites warning
Australia's consumer watchdog has warned that websites have a bad record of protecting customer privacy and basic consumer rights.
Issue no. 191 - 19 March 2001
- AOL-UFC/Que Choisir : condamnation confirmée
Dans un arrêt rendu le 14 mars, la cour d'appel de Versailles a confirmé la condamnation d'AOL en référé dans le conflit qui l'oppose à UFC-Que Choisir. Une condamnation allégée. AOL conserve ses timers et le dédommagement passe de 250 000 à 100 000 francs.
Issue no. 189 - 5 March 2001
- SEC renews net crackdown
US securities regulators announced the fifth in a series of internet fraud "sweeps", bringing 11 new enforcement actions against 23 companies and individuals. Investigators alleged the perpetrators used a range of fraudulent online techniques to raise funds for private ventures or to boost the value of less regulated "penny" stocks in the over-the-counter (OTC) market.
Issue no. 188 - 24 February 2001
- Browser hijackings upset security pundits
Web surfers are in a tug-of-war for control of their home page settings, fighting off increasingly aggressive tactics by Net businesses and online marketers aimed at commandeering first rights to consumers' browsers
Issue no. 187 - 17 February 2001
- Consumers in the online marketplace
13-14 March 2001, Berlin Germany. OECD workshop on the guidelines: one year later. Hosted by the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology.
- U.S. Shuts Down Web-Site Name Scam
The U.S. government has shut down a scam that duped at least 27,000 Web-site owners into needlessly registering variations of their online addresses.
- France - AOL et UFC-Que choisir s'expliquent devant le juge
Le consommateur a-t-il ou non été abusé par les promesses alléchantes du forfait illimité d'AOL ? Cette audience donnait suite à l'assignation en référé déposée par UFC-Que Choisir reprochant au fournisseur d'accès d'avoir effectué une publicité trompeuse et de ne pas avoir respecté les engagements contractuels liés au forfait illimité.
- UK - Couple 'duped' over internet Rolex sale
A British couple have sparked a major investigation in the US after they used their life's savings to buy a Rolex on the internet - but only received a photo of it in the post.
- UK - Web of deceit on mortgage sites
Regulators are set to tighten their grip on mortgage web sites which actively market loans over the internet while claiming merely to be passing on names and addresses of borrowers to suitable lenders.
Issue no. 183 - 14 January 2001
Issue no. 182 - 20 December 2000
- 12 Point Checklist for online shopping
(Trans Atlantic Consumer Dialogue)
When you're shopping online for the holidays, or any time, there are key things to look for to make your experience safer and happier. This checklist is based on voluntary guidelines for e-commerce from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
- USA - Billing Web Porn as Foreign Call Barred
(New York Law Journal)
A company operating a billing service for Internet pornographers has been enjoined from billing telephone line subscribers who neither used, nor authorized the use, of their lines to reach adult Web sites. Verity International collects bills for access to adult sites without requiring the customer to provide a credit card. Customers received bills showing long distance calls to Madagascar.
- USA - FTC Shuts Down Fake ID Site
A federal court has shut down a Web site that offered templates to help produce fake driver's licenses and state identification cards. The Federal Trade Commission brought a complaint against the site's proprietors earlier this month, saying fake IDs made from the site can be used not only for underage drinking and voter or passport fraud but also for identity theft.
Issue no. 177 - 12 November 2000
- High-speed MSN: Truth in advertising?
Those who want satellite Internet access through MSN HighSpeed need to junk their existing computers and buy brand-new Compaq Computer Corp. systems outfitted with satellite-compatible network cards.
Issue no. 176 - 5 November 2000
- Global Cops Crack Down on 'Dot Cons'
Emphasizing cross-border cooperation, consumer protection agencies from around the world unveiled the top 10 Net scams. FTC unveils effort to eradicate 'dot cons' Highlighting efforts to boost global cooperation against fraud on the Net, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission unveiled 18 new cases.
- USA - e-Bay auction posse
Much as citizens in the Old West once banded together to run desperadoes out of town, buyers and sellers concerned that eBay is being overrun by bandits formed their own "posse" to unmask the crooks. But when the "sheriff" - eBay - sought to rein in their investigations, the volunteer deputies rode out of town to pursue justice on their own terms.
- USA - Internet Complaints Are Climbing in New York
(New York Times)
The New York State attorney general's office said that consumer complaints to the office about Internet shopping and other online matters could be twice as numerous this year as they were two years ago, reflecting a steady rise in Internet use.
Issue no. 175 - 29 October 2000
- Online Credit Card Fraud
NOIE and the Australian Computer Society explore how perception of high risk may be misplaced in, 'The Phantom Menace: Setting the Record Straight about Online Credit Card Fraud for Consumers'.
- USA - Airlines Ordered to Tell Callers Internet May Offer Cheaper Fares
(New York Times)
The Transportation Department warned airlines that they faced sanctions if they did not tell consumers who made reservations over the telephone that cheaper fares might be available on the Internet, but it stopped short of requiring the airlines to say exactly what those fares would be.
- USA - Microsoft, FTC settle false ad claim
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission said Microsoft's WebTV interactive television unit agreed to settle charges filed by the regulatory body, which accused the company of false advertising. The company agreed to end the ads in question, give refunds, pay for a public education campaign and to pay fines if it repeats its offences. WebTV Settles FTC Charges (FTC Press Release).
- BT demands money back after ISP gaffe
BT is determined to recoup money lost as the result of a computer error which gave thousands of customers free access to the Internet for several months. A software fault in some of BT's telephone exchanges wrongly showed up 0845 numbers as 0800 ones. This led to customers of BT Internet services receiving no bills for access calls made from February through May of this year. While BT admits blame, it will be pursuing those affected in order to get its money back. "Clearly it is our fault but obviously we still need to recoup the money," says a spokesman.
Issue no. 172 - 8 October 2000
- Austria - E-Commerce-Gütezeichen für Online-Shops
Orientierungshilfe für Verbraucher | Online-Shops durch unabhängige, dritte Stelle geprüft | Außergerichtliche Schlichtungsstelle | Verbraucherfreundlichkeit durch anerkannte Qualitätsstandards
- USA - FTC Charges Overseas Firm with Illegal Billing
The Federal Trade Commission has charged Verity International with misusing the international telephone billing system to charge consumers for "videotext" services - Internet-based "adult" entertainment - that the consumers never purchased or authorized. Charges on consumers' phone lines were being initiated by "dialer" software downloaded from teaser "adult" web sites.
Issue no. 170 - 24 September 2000
- UK - New Rules Governing Sales to Consumers over the Internet
(Simmons & Simmons)
The Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) Regulations 2000, which give consumers greater protection when purchasing over the Internet, come into force on 31 October 2000. The Regulations implement Directive 97/7/EC on the protection of consumers in respect of distance contracts (the Distance Selling Directive).
- EU - Cyberspace and consumer confidence
David BYRNE European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection Kangaroo Group, Conference : Barriers in Cyber Space Followed by Press Conference with Commissioner Byrne at 16h00, Swiss Hotel Brussels, 18 September 2000
Issue no. 169 - 16 September 2000
- UK - Advertising watchdog bites 'free' ISPs
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has backed outraged internet surfers using so-called free services which sting them for phone or connection charges. The UK watchdog yesterday ruled that "free must mean totally free". see adjudication NTL Group Ltd.
Issue no. 168 - 9 September 2000
- USA - FTC: 'Free' Porn Sites Charged
The Federal Trade Commission has charged the publishing group that owns playgirl.com, highsociety.com, and dozens of other porn sites with bilking Web surfers out of more than $188 million over the course of a three-year credit-card scam.
- USA - FTC Wins $37. 5 Million Judgment from X-Rated Web Site Operators
The Federal Trade Commission has won a $37.5 million verdict against a California-based adult Web site operation the FTC charged with operating an illegal billing scam. The agency alleged the defendants repeatedly placed charges on consumers' credit and debit cards for X-rated Internet visits they had not made and services they didn't order. Indeed thousands of those billed for visiting the Web sites did not own computers.
Issue no. 167 - 6 August 2000
- UK - Security fears hit e-commerce
The development of shopping online is being seriously hindered by consumers' lack of confidence in internet security, according to research by the National Consumer Council.
Issue no. 166 - 30 July 2000
- UK - ISPA tells LineOne to compensate users
The Internet Service Providers Association (ISPA) threw its weight behind outraged LineOne customers who have been campaigning to save their unmetered access service demanding that the service provider finds a solution for compensating users. see also ISPA slaps LineOne and LineOne replies to ISPA (The Register).
- USA - e-tailers settle charges
Seven Internet retailers have agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that they violated a federal statute by not providing customers adequate notice of shipping delays during the 1999 holiday season.
Issue no. 165 - 22 July 2000
Issue no. 164 - 15 July 2000
- USA - FTC clamps down on Web pharmacies
In a crackdown on Web sites offering Viagra and similar drugs, the Federal Trade Commission has reached settlements with a group of Web pharmacies over accusations that they overcharged customers and made false claims about their medical staff. The pharmacies have agreed to stop their current business practices. see Online Pharmacies Settle FTC Charges (Press Release).
Issue no. 163 - 9 July 2000
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