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AANZFTA-US Officials Conversed about Consumer Scams in E-Commerce

ASEAN , 16 August 2021

CAP Scams in E-Commerce Webinar

53 Consumer protection officials from ASEAN Member States, Australia, and the United States met online to exchange insights and experiences on detecting, disrupting, and warning consumers of the risks of e-commerce scams. This interactive online webinar on ‘Combatting Consumer Scams in E-Commerce’ is part of the AANZFTA Consumer Affairs Programme (CAP) Phase I, delivered with support from the AANZFTA Economic Cooperation Support Programme (AECSP).

Scams are a complex and evolving problem causing substantial financial and emotional damage. Disrupting scams and warning consumers is a shared challenge for governments, the community, and the private sector. The ACCC’s Targeting Scams Report, released in June 2021, notes Australians lost a record $A851 million to scammers in 2020. International counterparts, including from ASEAN, similarly report that online scams have become a pernicious threat in their countries as consumers have increasingly increased online activities following the onset of COVID-19 in 2020.

In her opening remarks, Ms Nurul Marha binti Mohamed, the acting Chair for the ASEAN Committee on Consumer Protection (ACCP) stated:

Scams and cybercrimes caused great financial loss and harm to consumers globally, especially during the rise of the COVID-19 pandemic where these losses have significantly increased.  To this end, the ACCP must ensure that consumer protection measures, including laws, regulations and policies are in place in all 10 ASEAN Member States.  The ACCP also has a strong desire to arm consumers with knowledge and information to combat scams and cybercrimes in E-commerce”

During the webinar, Ms Delia Rickard, Deputy Chair of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), delivered a keynote presentation on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on scams and E-commerce. The webinar also featured a panel of experts from ASEAN discussing scams in E-commerce and their agency’s experiences in combatting them, as well as a joint presentation by the ACCC and the United States Federal Trade Commission (USFTC) on how cross-border data sharing has helped support investigative and enforcement functions in relation to international scams.

Ms Delia Rickard, Deputy Chair – Consumer Affairs, ACCC, stated:

“Scams are extremely serious business here in Australia and for our overseas partners. It is vital that we work with all our partners, particularly in ASEAN, to help protect consumers from malicious scams. The ACCC is driven to combat scam operators wherever we can, including by assisting our regional partners however they need.”

Reflecting on the webinar, Mr Looi Teck Kheong, Head of Competition, Consumer Protection and Intellectual Property Rights Division of the ASEAN Secretariat, observed:

“The ACCC’s CAP team and ASEAN Secretariat are collaborating to deliver new and innovative ways for officials of the ASEAN Committee on Consumer Protection to connect with peers in our region to exchange experience and expertise. We look forward to continuing to deliver consumer protection technical cooperation initiatives such as this webinar in partnership with the ACCC and the New Zealand Commerce Commission under AANZFTA CAP.”

The activity was delivered by the ACCC in partnership with the ASEAN Secretariat with support from the AECSP. CAP’s overarching goal is that AANZFTA objectives on competition are supported by effective consumer protection administrations in ASEAN, Australia and New Zealand.