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Transparency or a lack of disclosure around automatic renewals is also a concern.“If a ‘free’ offer isn’t really free, pricing isn’t clear, or a contract is easy to sign up to but hard to get out of, then we will find it,” Ms Rickard said.“Protecting consumers is a shared responsibility and the ACCC will continue its previous work with industry to develop best practice guidelines and identify ways to protect consumers from romance scams.” Dating websites – Important consumer tips: Background The ICPEN Sweep is in its 16th year.ICPEN is made up of consumer protection authorities from over 50 countries and its main objective is to: protect consumers’ interests around the world, share information about cross-border commercial activities that may affect consumer welfare, and encourage global cooperation among law enforcement agencies.The ACCC will also be sweeping these sites to look at what measures they have in place to protect consumers against scammers, as part of its Scams Disruption Project.“Unfortunately the ACCC continues to hear the devastating impact of dating and romance scams, with over million reported in financial losses and nearly 1700 complaints already this year,” Ms Rickard said.In contrast, Elaine’s online presence was relatively short-lived.Elaine, 61, quickly found a compatible partner: The third man I’d contacted replied to my message … I replied that I’d like to email him a bit to learn more about him.

The ACCC has also received reports of some online dating services signing people up to long-term fixed contracts with onerous or restrictive cancellation clauses.The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has joined an international initiative to protect vulnerable consumers by sweeping dating websites for misleading offers, unclear pricing policies or consumer contracts with unfair terms.The web search is part of the International Consumer Protection and Enforcement Network (ICPEN)’s annual internet sweep, involving over 50 consumer protection agencies around the world.MEDIA EVENT: The media is invited to film ACCC staff conducting the sweep, with ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard available for interview.Monday 15 September, 11am - 12pm Level 35, 360 Elizabeth Street Melbourne ACCC Media: 1300 138 917 or 0408 995 408 “The ACCC is today sweeping the internet to ensure that dating sites are being true and fair in their dealings with customers, and provide protection from scammers,” ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said.

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