Online economy presents rapidly growing challenges to the ACCC

18 June 2013

Australian Competition and Consumer Chairman Rod Sims has welcomed the challenges of the online economy in an address to National Consumer Fraud Week at the Arts Centre, Melbourne, this morning.

“Australians are increasingly going online to buy goods and services, taking advantage of the benefits from increased competition, choice and convenience while businesses also have new opportunities to gain new customers,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said.

The digital economy has the capacity to deliver increased choice and improved customer service. However, the digital economy presents rapidly growing challenges to the ACCC on a number of fronts.

"The ACCC has made online competition and consumer issues a compliance and enforcement priority,” Mr Sims said.

“Consumer protection matters on our radar include fake online reviews, group buying websites, price comparison websites, unfair contract terms online, product safety online, and consumer guarantee rights.”

The ACCC has also been active in monitoring the growth of online scams, recording a 65 per cent increase in 2012.

“The ACCC welcomes recent research by the Australian Institute of Criminology which has looked into the risk factors that contribute to becoming a scam victim,” Mr Sims said.

“This sort of research will help both law enforcement agencies and industry to know what trigger points scammers use to push people’s buttons, and therefore how we can target our response through education, disruption and, where necessary, legal intervention. “

“However, the ACCC believes that there is still a lot more research to be done in the Australian context around what factors lie behind why people respond to and subsequently get duped by scams.

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