COVID-19: Commission and EU consumer authorities take action against the spread of fake products online
Since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak, there has been a rise in rogue traders selling false products online, which allegedly can prevent or cure the new virus. Those false claims include a number of goods such as masks, caps, and hand sanitizers. Such traders are exploiting the current situation to sell their products at very high prices claiming that stocks are running low for example, and thus misleading EU consumers. To tackle this issue, the European Commission and the network of national consumer protection authorities at EU level (CPC) have now launched joint actions, following an action started by the Italian authority. They are now actively sharing information and working together on a consistent approach to tackle such practices and to ensure that consumers are not deceived by rogue traders. They also aim to raise consumers’ awareness about these practices. Didier Reynders, Commissioner for Justice and Consumers, said: “We will not accept that traders play on consumers’ fears caused by the COVID-19 outbreak in the EU. Some platforms, such as Amazon and Facebook have voluntarily taken action against such publicity. Consumers’ organization are stepping up their work. This is the way to go. I urge all actors, including online marketplaces and media hosting platforms to carry on helping us fight against such predatory behavior. I can assure that the Commission and the competent authorities of the Member States will use all their powers to crack down on rogue traders.” With the support of Commission, the EU consumer authorities are preparing a guidance to help identify better the problematic practices. This guidance will help to coordinate action between all national authorities, traders and platforms, and advise the national authorities on how to eradicate false claims quickly. Given the urgency of the situation, Member States authorities are encouraged to swiftly take the necessary specific enforcement measures nationally, as a priority. At the same time all online platforms must step up their efforts to rapidly detect and take down false claims. The guidance will be made public in the next days. Find more information on the enforcement of consumer protection and on the Unfair commercial practices directive.