‘Rip-off tip-off’ campaign launched by CMA as 70% of online shoppers get scammed

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The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has launched an online campaign to help shoppers spot and avoid misleading ecommerce practices after finding that 71% of consumers have been ripped off online.

The competition watchdog has launched the brand-new campaign The Online Rip-Off Tip-Off to help shoppers spot and avoid misleading online practices after it became “increasingly concerned” about “sneaky” sales tactics.

The campaign is being fronted by TV presenter and consumer champion Angellica Bell, co-presenter of The Martin Lewis Money Show.

A study by the competition regulator revealed that seven out of 10 online shoppers have experienced potential rip-offs such as subscription traps and hidden charges, potentially causing significant financial and emotional harm.

Other dubious tactics  include fake reviews and pressure selling, where shoppers are given a false impression of the limited availability or popularity of a product or service.

The poll found shoppers were most concerned about hidden charges (85%), followed by subscription traps (83%), fake reviews (80%) and pressure selling (50%).

Read more: Meta fined again by CMA for breaching an enforcement order

“As online shopping grows and grows, we’re increasingly concerned about businesses using misleading sales tactics, like pressure selling or hidden charges, to dupe people into parting with their cash,” said CMA chief executive Andrea Coscelli.

“None of us would accept these tactics in the real world. But we might not realise how much they influence what we buy online. So, we’ve launched ‘The Online Rip-Off Tip-Off’ to help hand the power back to shoppers.

“It’s only when we all know what these tricks are, and how they are designed to manipulate and mislead, that we are better equipped to avoid them.”

Matthew Upton, director of policy at Citizens Advice, added: “While many firms play fair, too often we hear of online shoppers being duped by fake reviews, time-pressured claims or seriously dressed-up deals.

“We hope ‘The Online Rip-off Tip-off’ campaign helps shoppers spot underhand sales tactics – like offers that seem too good to be true or any pressure to buy now, and report them.

“By doing this we can help to bring unscrupulous traders to book, and all shop safer online.”

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