ZAMBOANGA City– The Department of Trade and Industry-9 (DTI-9) has cautioned consumers transacting via the internet to be very vigilant to protect themselves from fraudulent online sellers.
“While we encourage our small entrepreneurs to use online marketing as one way to promote their products, we are also alerting our consumers to be vigilant. You don’t plunge into online shopping unless you have done research about the sellers,” Dr. Sitti Amina Jain, DTI regional director, said.
Jain cautioned buyers that they should first and foremost check on the feedbacks of the seller before transacting online.
“What I want to tell the consumers is to check on the integrity of the seller by checking on the feedbacks given by the buyers. If there are adverse feedbacks, then don’t transact with the seller,” Jain said.
She added that it would also help if the online store is already an established or well-known online store.
She emphasized the agency is also protecting consumers against malpractices in online marketing.
“Online marketing is covered under the E-Commerce Law and Republic Act 9174 or the Consumer Act of the Philippines, meaning even if it is online shopping, if the consumer is at the losing end, you can file complaint with DTI, and we will take charge of that and identify the seller,” she said.
She also cited the Cybercrime Act (RA 10175) which further protects online consumers, making illegal acts committed through the internet as crimes punishable by law.
Furthermore, Jain said the Office of Cybercrime under the Department of Justice (DOJ) issued an advisory on how to avoid bogus sellers online.
First, if products are advertised at very low prices compared to other website, then it should be a cause of concern.
Second, if online sellers have poor ratings or feedback, consumers are advised to stop transacting with the seller.
Other “red flags” to be considered are: if the seller asks buyer to pay by money transfer direct to their bank account instead of a preferred payment method; website do not have contact details such as physical address or telephone number; and/or if the website has little or no information about privacy and terms of conditions of use.
Jain said the consumers can also return the item if they are not satisfied with the product or if what is sent to them is different from what they initially purchased. (pna)