ACM: Watch out for fake shops on social media
Today, the Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) launched its latest consumer awareness campaign called 'Online shop or fake shop?' In this campaign, ACM warns consumers against purchasing products from fake shops through social media. Nowadays, companies offer their products to consumers through social media as well. They do so in a direct and targeted manner, sometimes even without the intermediate step of using a website. This means that consumers are protected less well. If the product is not satisfactory or is not even received at all, it often turns out that the seller is unknown and nowhere to be found. As a result, consumers are also not able to contact the seller if there is a problem with their purchases. Last year, consumers were harmed in this manner for almost EUR 5 million.
Evert Jan Hummelen, acting Director of ACM's Consumer Department, adds: "When buying something through social media, consumers need to be extra careful. Social media is a fleeting medium. This means that offers and sellers are just as fleeting. If you want your money back, it is often unclear whom to contact. In our campaign, we are warning consumers about such issues. We also give them suggestions on what options they have. "
Suggestions for consumers
ACM, through its consumer information portal ConsuWijzer, started its campaign today to point out the risks of shopping through social media. We do so in videos shown on social media, and in radio ads. In addition, consumers will also receive suggestions, such as:
- Read reviews in order to assess a seller's trustworthiness;
- Pay later or opt for a payment method that comes with a refund policy (payment insurance).
Consumers can share their experiences with ConsuWijzer. They can do so using WhatsApp or other social media, but also over the phone or by email. ConsuWijzer also gives recommendations on follow-up steps that consumers can take.
Consumers buy more and more online, and do so more and more often. When purchasing products through social media, it is often unclear who the seller of the product is, and under what conditions it is sold, even though the online provider is statutorily required to provide such information. Sometimes, you may have made a purchase from a fake shop, and you will not receive your product at all. That is when you find out that the page on which you had bought the product has disappeared, making it impossible to contact the seller.
ACM believes it is important that consumers are able to purchase products online safely. The digital economy is one of the priorities on ACM's agenda. ACM has launched this campaign in order to equip consumers with information for when they go online.
ACM promotes opportunities and options for businesses and consumers. As an independent regulator, ACM promotes a well-functioning economy. ACM ensures that:
- Consumers have sufficient options, are protected against fraud, and are well-informed about their rights;
- Companies compete fairly with each other, and comply with the rules;
- Rates for energy, telecom, transport, and mail continue to be reasonable.
ConsuWijzer is part of ACM. The website www.consuwijzer.nl gives practical advice about the rights consumers have.