I am a philatelist and have become aware of increasing offers of fake, forged and fraudulent items on internet auction sites such as ebay.
Many buyers are being deceived without their knowledge. The sellers have become aware that ebay takes no serious action, and happily continue. ACCC does not seem to want to know unless someone has actually been defrauded. Consumer Affairs likewise, and the Police are too busy with more important things.
These sellers need to be prosecuted to protect innocent buyers who are being defrauded ... not just deregistered on ebay. They just re-register with a new name and start over. It has become a significant problem within the on-line industry component of the hobby.
When I detect such a fraudulent listing (often many by the same seller), to whom should I make a report with some hope of being taken seriously?
Thank you for your email of 19 May 2012 to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) regarding your concerns with fraudulent retailers of stamps online.Your reference number for this matter is 08111. We unreservedly apologise for the delay in providing you with a response.
The ACCC is responsible for administering the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 which incorporates the Australian Consumer Law (ACL) in Schedule 2 of that Act. The ACL is a single national law which aims to protect consumers and ensure fair trading in Australia. Under the ACL, consumers have the same protections, and businesses have the same obligations and responsibilities across Australia.
Under section 29 of the ACL a person must not, in trade or commerce, make false or misleading representations in connection with the supply or possible supply of goods or services or in connection with the promotion by any means of the supply or use of goods or services. This includes misrepresentations that goods are of a particular standard, quality, value, grade, composition, style or model or have had a particular history or particular previous use. Additionally section 18 of the ACL prohibits a person, in trade or commerce, engaging in conduct which is misleading or deceptive, or which is likely to mislead or deceive. It is these sections of the ACL under which such instances of potentially fraudulent conduct of the type raised in your email could be taken action against.
I note that you are primarily concerned with the fact that there has been an absence of action taken against individual fraudulent sellers, and are inquiring about the best avenue for ensuring action is taken against these sellers. One issue for our office is that the ACCC does not offer an individual dispute resolution service, but instead makes decisions on which matters will be investigated further based on the ACCC‚Äôs Compliance and Enforcement policy. A number of factors are weighed including whether conduct raises national or international issues, involves significant consumer detriment or a blatant disregard of the law. We certainly appreciate your assistance in bringing this issue to our attention, and your complaint has been recorded and will be used in monitoring whether there is a level of conduct by individual fraudulent traders or a pattern within the online stamp retailing industry which may raise concerns sufficient to warrant intervention by the ACCC.
However, individual instances of loss or damage as a result of misleading or deceptive conduct or false representation are best pursued ‚Äď where such matters are unable to be resolved with these traders through either verbal or written communications ‚Äď through Consumer Affairs agencies such as Consumer Affairs Victoria (1300 558 181; www.consumer.vic.gov.au
). Local fair trading or consumer affairs agencies can suggest a range of strategies that you may wish to explore to resolve your concerns. They can also provide information on how to make a claim through the small claims court or tribunal should this become necessary. In these matters, it is also recommended that eBay be notified of these fraudulent sellers; as you are aware, however, the capacity for various government agencies to enforce the ACL or the pertinent fraud sections of state and criminal law is limited by the relative anonymity afforded by internet retailing, and the ease with which fraudulent online retailers can create new user profiles.
Whilst individual complaints also form the basis of investigations, it must be noted that the ACCC does not comment on matters we may or may not be investigating and the ACCC is unable to provide you with further information of any action we may or may not be taking in relation to your complaint. Please also note that the ACCC will only contact you again in relation to your complaint if we require further information or evidence to assist in our enquiries.
Thank you for bringing this matter to the attention of the ACCC. I trust this information is of assistance.
Not much help I'm afraid.
Perhaps if they get enough similar queries they may think it serious enough to investigate?