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Fighting International Scams on the Web

Boot Camp feature for Monday, December 24, 2001

What happens if you get taken by an Internet merchant outside the U.S.? Bloomberg Boot Camp, a report on today's technology. Governments around the world are grappling with the problem of online fraud... and how to deal with it when it is outside of their borders. At the Federal Trade Commission, Pablo Zylberglait of the consumer protection enforcement division... says more than a dozen countries have begun a joint effort to share and investigate e-commerce complaints...

"The Internet is the first truly global medium and as a result, having strong consumer protections in the United States is a start, but it doesn't help an American consumer that has a bad experience buying something from abroad. And what we feel and what the industry agrees, is that this erodes consumer confidence and if we e-commerce to grow, consumer confidence must grow with it."

The nations involved have created a multilingual Web site at econsumer.gov, where people can go report complaints..

"The complaint form is very easy to use. They can click on certain categories of transactions which we have found to be the most common kinds of complaints, or they also have a box where they can type in a special complaint or something that isn't covered by the categories."

Other than allowing you to vent your frustrations... can the site help you get your money back? The answer is... maybe...

"Whether you can get money back out of an action filed by a foreign consumer protection agency, for example the U.K. Office of Fair Trading, that depends on the laws and regulations in each country."

No guarantees, but at least you'll have a chance. Bloomberg Boot Camp, I'm Fred Fishkin.