The Federal Trade Commission, together with other members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), today adopted a Recommendation on Consumer Dispute Resolution and Redress. The OECD recommendation offers a framework for governments and businesses to help consumers resolve disputes and settle claims, both for individual consumers and groups of consumers, and offers mechanisms for getting money back for wronged consumers. It recommends that national consumer protection agencies have legal authority to obtain and facilitate redress on behalf of consumer victims. The OECD is a 30-nation forum that promotes economic growth, trade, and development.
The OECD recommendation offers principles for domestic and cross-border disputes, and addresses both real world and online commerce. It also contains specific principles for member countries to make cross-border dispute resolution and redress more effective, including participating in international and regional consumer complaint, advice, and referral networks; expanding the awareness of justice system participants, including the judiciary, law enforcement officials, and other government officials, as to the needs of foreign consumers who have been harmed by domestic wrongdoers; encouraging greater use of technology to facilitate resolution of cross-border disputes; taking steps to minimize legal barriers to consumer dispute resolution and redress mechanisms outside the consumer’s country; and developing multi- and bi-lateral arrangements to improve international judicial co-operation in the recovery of foreign assets and the enforcement of judgments in appropriate cross-border cases. The recommendation also calls for the private sector to work cooperatively in developing consumer dispute resolution and redress mechanisms.
The recommendation is one of several OECD recommendations aimed at protecting consumers in the evolving global marketplace. It builds on the OECD’s 1999 Guidelines for Consumer Protection in the Context of Electronic Commerce, and the OECD’s 2003 Guidelines for Protecting Consumers from Fraudulent and Deceptive Practices Across Borders. The earlier two recommendations recognized the importance of effective dispute resolution and redress mechanisms and called for the development of effective cross-border redress systems. The FTC hosted a workshop on this topic in 2005.
The FTC works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to provide information to help spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish, click http://www.ftc.gov/ftc/complaint.shtm or call 1-877-382-4357. The FTC enters Internet, telemarketing, identity theft, and other fraud-related complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to more than 1,600 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad. For free information on a variety of consumer topics, click http://ftc.gov/bcp/consumer.shtm.