Fri, Mar 15, 2013 - Page 5 News List

Watchdog urges action on Internet shopping scams

Staff writer, with CNA

The nation’s major consumer watchdog is urging the government to require online sellers and shoppers to submit their real names as part of efforts to combat the growing number of e-commerce scams.

Consumers’ Foundation board member Hsieh Tien-jen (謝天仁) urged the Ministry of Economic Affairs to require real-name registration on all e-commerce sites, considering the market’s strong growth and the relatively limited legal protection in place.

Chen Chih-yi (陳智義), publisher of the foundation’s Consumer Reports Magazine, said the country’s 2,245 online scam cases, including hacked accounts and online dating scams, accounted for 10.88 percent of all fraud cases in Taiwan last year.

The growth of the nation’s online shopping market has made it a more inviting target for fraudsters, he said.

The nation’s e-commerce revenues were NT$562 billion (US$18.94 billion) in 2011 and NT$660.5 billion last year, and are expected to reach NT$740 billion this year, Chen said, citing data compiled by the Institute for the Information Industry.

Hsieh said existing laws are inadequate to deal with fraud because while business-to-customer (B2C) transactions are protected under the Consumer Protection Act (消費者保護法), consumer-to-consumer (C2C) transactions are regulated under the less restrictive Civil Code.

When disputes over B2C transactions occur, shoppers can seek help through the Consumer Protection Act, which stipulates that products can be returned within seven days of purchase with no questions asked.

However, shoppers on C2C sites can only seek help from the police when disputes arise, and pseudonym accounts often make tracking down fraudsters difficult, Hsieh said.

Chiu Chun-wei of the government’s 165 anti-fraud hotline said real-name registration would provide both sellers and shoppers with further protection and assist law enforcement officers.

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