International internet sweep targets false claims

22 September 2008

Loose with the truth on claims on your website?

Beware—in the next 24 hours, thousands of websites will be examined by consumer protection agencies worldwide with just one question in mind—is the message true or false?

"The ACCC will be targeting unrealistic, exaggerated and false claims – such as representations about energy savings, 'too good to be true' performance and consumers' refund rights," Australian Competition and Consumer Commission Deputy Chair, Mr Peter Kell, warned today.

"This year's sweep is about getting on the front foot to identify potentially deceptive or fraudulent websites," Mr Kell said.

The ACCC is the sweep coordinator for this international event held under the banner of the International Consumer Protection and Enforcement Network. 

"More than 20 agencies across the world will be scouring websites looking for online traders who make big upfront promises and fail to deliver," Mr Kell said.

"Along with other Australian consumer protection agencies, the ACCC will scrutinise Australian based websites and flag suspicious traders for further investigation.

"We'll be paying close attention to websites offering body enhancement products, complementary medicines, work-from-home schemes, communication services and environmentally safe products."

"Any online trader sending out what appears to be false and misleading messages will be asked to verify and substantiate their claims.

"It's wrong to think the trading rules are different online.  The law is the law. When dealing with traders operating in Australia, the same basic rights apply online as they do offline."

State and territory fair trading offices and representatives from the Department of the Treasury and the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy will also take part in the sweep.

The ACCC will coordinate the joint action from its sweep headquarters in Canberra. ACCC regional offices will also participate in the internet sweep activities.

Links

Release number: 
MR 269/08
Media enquiries: 
Mr Brent Rebecca - (02) 6243 1317