FTC, International Partners Unveil New Tool To Help Consumers Resolve Cross-border Problems
The Federal Trade Commission and consumer protection agencies around the world have created a valuable new tool to help consumers resolve cross-border disputes. The International Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Directory contains contact information for dispute resolution service providers that can help consumers resolve problems with foreign sellers, regardless of the seller’s location. The directory was unveiled today on econsumer.gov, a joint Web site operated by consumer protection agencies in 20 countries.
The econsumer.gov Web site, created in 2001, is an important liaison between consumers and consumer protection agencies worldwide. When consumers file cross-border fraud complaints on econsumer.gov, they reach all the participating agencies simultaneously. This enables international law enforcers to cooperate on investigations, share information, and fight fraud more efficiently.
The International ADR Directory allows consumers to locate neutral providers of resolution services in their country to help them with cross-border disputes. A dispute resolution provider may, for example, intervene when a foreign seller does not send a promised product, sends the wrong product, or incorrectly charges a consumer’s credit card. These services can be essential to consumers who have not had success trying to resolve their disputes without assistance. Currently, the directory lists service providers in Argentina, Australia, Bulgaria, Chinese Taipei, Finland, Ireland, Korea, Romania, the United Kingdom, and the United States. More service providers will be added in the future; until then, several listed providers have agreed to handle complaints against sellers in any country.
The unveiling of the International ADR Directory on econsumer.gov comes during International Fraud Awareness Month, during which consumer protection agencies around the world are working to educate consumers about recognizing fraud, avoiding becoming a victim, and using consumer protection agencies as resources. The International Consumer Protection and Enforcement Network (ICPEN) designated February for this important education effort. ICPEN, which consists of consumer protection agencies in 31 countries, is committed to combating cross-border fraud through international cooperation.
Throughout the month, the FTC has posted valuable consumer information on econsumer.gov, including “Fraud: Recognize It, Report It, Stop It,” a consumer education brochure that identifies several prevalent cross-border frauds, including foreign lottery scams, advance-fee loan or credit card scams, “Nigerian” scams, and identity theft. For each fraud, the FTC identifies some of the tactics fraudsters use to scam consumers, then provides tips on how consumers can protect themselves, their personal information, and their bank accounts.
The FTC works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish (bilingual counselors are available to take complaints), or to get free information on any of 150 consumer topics, call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357), or use the complaint form at http://www.ftc.gov. The FTC enters Internet, telemarketing, identity theft, and other fraud-related complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to hundreds of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.
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