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Commission Joins Forces For Intl. Sweep Day

Media Release

Issued 9 February 2003-04/090

Too good to be true?
Commission joins forces for International Sweep Day

If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. That's the message from the Commerce Commission as it joins forces with enforcement agencies worldwide this week in searching thousands of websites to uncover misleading advertising claims that are just too good to be true.

The Commission is taking part in the sixth annual International Consumer Protection and Enforcement Network (ICPEN) Internet Sweep. The Commission's focus under the 'too good to be true' theme includes pyramid selling, as well as work from home and get rich quick schemes.

Director of Fair Trading Deborah Battell said that while the internet is an invaluable and extremely accessible source of information, consumers need to be vigilant when it comes to internet transactions.

"Businesses also need to realise that the internet is not a 'free for all' where anything goes. The same consumer protection laws apply and any misleading claims made in advertising can attract fines of up to $200,000 under New Zealand's Fair Trading Act.

"Where issues of jurisdiction arise, the Commission will liaise with its international counterparts," Ms Battell said.

ICPEN is a membership organisation consisting of the consumer protection law enforcement authorities of more than two dozen countries. The organisation conducts sweep days, co-ordinated by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, to target the growing number of fraudulent and deceptive scams emerging on the internet.

The Commission will be working closely with the Ministry of Consumer Affairs which will also be taking part in the sweep. New Zealand and international results should be available by the end of March.


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