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Iloilo signs ordinance punishing online trade fraudsters

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The Provincial Government of Iloilo has passed an ordinance penalizing scammers lurking on the internet.

These fraudsters, often luring victims with attractive deals, face a fine of as much as P5,000 and imprisonment for one year under the Online Trade Protection Ordinance, according to the Sangguniang Panlalawigan.

The measure is being enforced to protect consumers and merchants engaged in internet transactions amid restrictions brought by the coronavirus pandemic. (https://bit.ly/2K78xBZ)

Under the new provincial ordinance, the following acts shall be considered unlawful:

* use of fraudulent or misleading account wherein seller’s shipping order is invalid or cannot be viewed or processed with the intention of misleading and deceiving the buyer and general public

* sending of empty parcels to buyers despite meeting of the minds to pursue the online transaction, agreement and/or arrangement

* sending of tampered or adulterated items and sending of items that are lesser in value, quantity and/or quality different from what has been advertised or agreed upon by the seller and buyer inconsistent with the product information provided on the container, packaging or labels

* refusal on the part of the third-party-service courier to open parcel at the instant request of the buyer.

Republic Act No. (RA) 7394 or the Consumer Act as well as RA 7581 require all sellers to display product prices explicitly. It allows authorities to impose fines of up to P2 million for non-compliance. Culprits could also face imprisonment of 15 years.

Consumers are urged to report to the Department of Trade and Industry vendors, online or otherwise, who violate this law.