National Trading Standards’ annual Consumer Harm Report highlights key data and emerging threats to consumers
National Trading Standards’ second annual ‘Consumer Harm Report’, launched in late 2016, revealed that consumers are being deceived through the clever use of digital technology, which is behind a number of emerging threats such as counterfeit and dangerous goods being advertised on social media platforms and misleading listings on online portals.
The Consumer Harm Report also outlined the key threats and criminal activity that National Trading Standards teams have tackled over the past year, saving businesses and consumers an estimated £93 million. The team’s investigations have also seen 77 criminals convicted in 2015-16, collectively sentenced to 161 years’ worth of jail time. This means that over the past two years National Trading Standards has secured £12.63 of economic benefit for every £1 spent.
Each year the Consumer Harm Report identifies emerging threats reported by teams across England and Wales. These are:
- Continued growth of social media as a selling platform – this includes criminals who disguise themselves as well-known brands on sites such as Facebook, luring users with low prices before sending counterfeit goods.
- Expansion of micro-importers: as consumers continue to buy and sell products on the internet there will continue to be product safety concerns around cheap, dangerous and counterfeit goods being sent to UK consumers.
- Criminals committing doorstep crime offences are targeting people in vulnerable situations such as older people living alone, by impersonating authorities, such as the police or council officers.
- The practice of ‘portal juggling’, where estate agents manipulate property websites to make relisted properties appear ‘new on the market’.
- A number of issues related to second-hand cars which continues to rise. These issues often involve the cars having safety problems or being misleadingly described when sold.
- Mass marketing scams, where businesses are enticed to place scam advertisements in local medical centres, publications for good causes or to place online adverts - money is then taken from their businesses for adverts that are rejected or never placed.