Commencing today, the ‘Watch out for online scams’ campaign aims to warn consumers of scammers operating online. Everyone using the Internet should keep in mind that if something seems too good to be true, it probably isn’t true.
The number of different online and subscription traps has gone up in recent years. Scammers are also more skilled than before and are, therefore, harder to identify. You can become targeted for a scam online, via e-mail or using a mobile device. In 2017, nearly 12,000 cases of online fraud were reported to the police. Last year, the Finnish Competition and Consumer Authority was contacted 1,453 times concerning online and subscription traps.
For example, scams may involve the fraudulent use of various brands and company names. Messages may be sent under the guise of a well-known company, or they may have brand logos attached without permission. The aim is to collect confidential information, e.g. using surveys and invitations to participate to spread malware or to ensnare the respondent with unreasonable contract terms and conditions.
A typical example of online fraud is offering property for sale, when the seller does not factually possess said property or does not intend to actually sell the property. The price for the offered product is usually much lower than what the product would normally sell for. Subscription traps usually have a more or less credible explanation for why the price is so low. In addition, the seller often tries to rush the sale, on the basis of, for example, there being other buyers lined up.
The ease of conducting online scams and fraud has made the Internet an appealing environment for criminals to operate in. Various fake sites and campaigns are often manufactured from abroad, which also makes it difficult to solve such cases.
Huijausinfo.fi – a resource for consumers on online scams
The ‘Watch out for online scams’ campaign will commence on Thursday, 15 March, which is also the World Consumer Rights Day. The campaign will encourage consumers to be vigilant when using the Internet, as anyone can fall victim to an online scam. It is important to maintain and develop your consumer skills in order to identify and avoid scams.
The campaign will offer consumers information on scams and tips for avoiding getting scammed. It will also encourage consumers to contact the authorities if they get scammed. As part of their communications campaign, the Consumers’ Union Finland has launched the Huijausinfo.fi website, where together with its partners, the union will compile information on scams targeting consumers. The website offers content such as links to the most up-to-date information provided by the authorities. Current topics are also communicated via the Twitter account @Huijausinfo.
The ‘Watch out for online scams’ communications campaign will be visible on social media in the coming weeks. On Facebook and Twitter, the hashtags #varohuijareitaverkossa and #huijausinfo are used.
The communications campaign is implemented collaboratively by the Finnish Commerce Federation, Consumers’ Union Finland, Finnish Competition and Consumer Authority, Police, Customs, Finnish Safety and Chemicals Agency (Tukes), Finnish Communications Regulatory Authority and the European Consumer Centre Finland.