The average damage caused by fraud involving online purchases is on the rise: at €350 in the past 12 months, that amount is more than 20% higher than the year before. There was even a 36% increase in reported amounts from victims who reported an amount of €1,000 or more. They collectively spent €365,000 in the past 12 months, compared to €277,000 in the previous 12 months. The number of reporters remained unchanged in the process.
This is according to figures from the Fraude Helpdesk. The National Reporting Point for Internet Scams (LMIO) of the police expects more than 40,000 reports regarding buying and selling fraud by 2023. Meanwhile, the LMIO has had 1,000 dodgy webshops average taken offline. That is more than 30% more than in 2022. The Consumer & Market Authority (ACM), the Consumers' Association and the European Consumer Centre (ECC) also receive reports from consumers complaining about webshops that fail to honour their agreements.
Because still many average consumers make online purchases without first checking the reliability of the webshop. That while purchases from unknown webshops in particular are not without risk. The Fraude Helpdesk, the ACM, the Consumers' Association, the ECC and the LMIO of the police are therefore, like last year, joining forces in a campaign against scams by fake webshops. The organisations are calling for advance checking of unknown webshops. Today, a campaign starts with the message: Do you know the webshop yet? First check reviews, then order.
Unknown webshop? First check reviews, then order
Checking reviews in advance can save a lot of hassle later on, especially for unknown shops. Research by the ACM shows that over 59% of consumers bought something from a webshop they were unfamiliar with last year: a webshop they had not bought from or heard of before. Consumers rate the risks of shopping at an unfamiliar webshop higher than when shopping at a well-known webshop, but still hardly behave differently. At a well-known webshop, 43% of consumers check reviews before ordering something. At an unknown webshop this is hardly higher, only 55%. And this percentage should be much higher, according to the cooperating organisations.
What can you do yourself?
The most important and easiest thing to check beforehand are reviews. Google the word 'reviews' and the URL (the web address) of the webshop and check the experiences of others on several review sites. Or check reports and reports on the police website. Such a quick check will almost always filter out scammers or shops that do not have their affairs in order.
Organisations act together
The organisations involved have different tasks and each highlight the campaign message from their own angle
- The Fraude Helpdesk is the national desk for fraud reports and initial advice on (questions about) scams. Based on the reports, the Fraude Helpdesk alerts others via their website and (social) media with alerts and campaigns. In this campaign, supported by the Ministry of J&V, they target everyone aged 30 and above through posts on social media.
Eerst checken, dan bestellen - Fraudehelpdesk
- The ACM is an independent regulator that champions well-functioning markets for people and businesses. The ACM takes action when webshops do not comply with consumer rules, for example in cases of deception, and provides information to consumers through ACM ConsuWijzer. In the campaign, the ACM specifically targets 18- to 30-year-olds through social media, online ads, a radio spot and with digital bus shelters at railway stations and in shopping streets.
Download campaign material, with password FirstReviewsCheck: Transfer ophalen - Transfer-ID (acm.nl)
- The Consumers' Association collects reports, investigates sellers, takes action against unreliable parties and warns if you should stay away from certain webshops. The Consumers' Association will pay extra attention to the subject of safe online shopping in the coming period via social media, newsletters, on their website and in the Consumer Guide.
- The European Consumer Centre is part of the Legal Help Desk. The ECC provides free legal advice on European consumer rights and assists consumers who have a problem with a (web) shop in another EU country, Norway, Iceland or the UK. In the campaign, the ECC targets 18- to 30-year-olds through social media and online ads.
Eerst reviews checken, dan bestellen | ECC Nederland
Among other things, the police are in charge of detecting webshops where declarants feel they have been scammed. After analysis and investigation and takes rogue webshops offline, the police share average data with financial institutions, to prevent multiple consumers from becoming victims of scams and follow up investigations into the suspects.