The Commission for Consumer Protection has published three fraud alerts received by the European Consumer Centre – Bulgaria to serve as signs to consumers of irregularity when shopping online from foreign websites. 

April 25, 2024


Author: Boyana Boyadzhieva

Following numerous complaints from defrauded consumers, experts from the European Consumer Centre Bulgaria (ECC) are drawing attention to the signs that may suggest that an online shop is not honest enough and consumers are better off refraining from ordering. To this end, the ommission for Consumer Protection (CCP) informs about three signals received by the ECC and publishes the ECC’s comment on each of them.

Some of the things that suggest irregularity are:

1. Online shop users are obliged to buy a certain number of products.

– In the first situation published by the CCP, a consumer was required to purchase a minimum of 4 products from the e-store in order for her order to be approved. The EPC commented that retailers sometimes provide a discount for ordering more items or a combination of 2 or more items, but this should not be made into an explicit obligation to purchase from a site. If the requirement is unconditional, then consumers should think carefully about whether they need those particular products.

2. The order confirmation is received in the SPAM folder of the email, with a danger indication in red.

– In this situation, the EPC comments that nowadays emails are good enough at identifying hazards and alerting us – most often by sending the sender to the SPAM folder of the email. In such cases it is very often phishing emails/links or other attempts by malicious senders to harm the recipient.

Moreover, the EPC adds that another sign suggesting irregularity in such a sale can be found in the fact that the trader sends information about the movement/tracking of the goods from different email addresses that have nothing to do with the domain of the website from where the user has made the purchase.

Every consumer should be extremely careful when opening such emails received on their email, because besides losing money due to receiving poor quality clothes, for example, they also risk infecting their computer or phone with a virus.

3. The website does not mention the phone number and email address to contact the merchant.

– In the third case, a consumer says that the website did not mention the telephone number and email address for contacting the retailer, nor did it provide a return form to inform the trader of his wish to cancel the distance order contract.

The EPC commented on the obligation for all traders in the European Union to provide contacts such as email, telephone and physical address on their website so that the consumer can easily contact them. It is also necessary to have details of the company and where it is registered. When it comes to a seller in a third country, this is not compulsory, but it is also the case that customers’ rights may not be as well protected as they are within the EU.

The EPC’s advice is that before a consumer places an order from a new and unfamiliar site, he/ she should make sure he/sje checks the retailer and how can the retailer be contacted if the consumer has any questions or problems. Very often dishonest persons selling goods online leave a blank space where there should be information about the company and its contacts. In other cases, the text that explains where the trader is registered is in a completely different language to the rest of the product information on the site. Sometimes a picture of the company name is put in instead of being written as part of the whole text, and so it is harder to catch as a mistake or fraud by search engines on the web.

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