As part of its ongoing effort to combat cross-border fraud and promote consumer protection around the world, the Federal Trade Commission is hosting counterparts from more than 40 countries on May 6 and 7 to discuss enforcement strategies and emerging consumer protection issues.
Most of the agencies expected at the two-day forum in Washington, DC, are participants in the International Consumer Protection Enforcement Network (ICPEN), which was established in 1992. Agenda topics include decentralized global scams, electronic transactions, emerging trends and risks associated with social networking sites, and advance-fee fraud.
“American consumers are being targeted more and more by scammers based in other countries, so cross-border cooperation through the ICPEN network is a vital part of the FTC’s consumer protection agenda,” said FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz. “ICPEN brings together law enforcement agencies from around the world to share intelligence about consumer fraud and bolster international enforcement efforts.”
The participants finished a two-day “best practices” training session on May 5 that covered cross-border enforcement issues, information and evidence gathering, and Internet investigations.
During the conference, 25 ICPEN member agencies will launch an updated version of the econsumer.gov website, a portal for consumers to file cross-border complaints and find information about possible ways to resolve their complaints. Consumer complaints filed at the web portal – which operates in English, French, German, Spanish, Korean, Japanese, and Polish – are immediately available to the 25 member agencies that participate in this cross-border enforcement project.
In March, the ICPEN network launched a new version of its website (www.icpen.org), which features consumer-related news items from participating agencies. The site also provides resources for victims of international deceptive marketing and fraud, and for those who seek information about ICPEN’s efforts to combat cross-border fraud.
To coincide with the ICPEN conference, the FTC released its annual report on cross-border fraud complaints, which can be found at www.ftc.gov/sentinel/reports/annual-crossborder-reports/crossborder-cy2009.pdf. The report finds that cross-border fraud complaints comprised 13 percent of all fraud complaints during calendar year 2009.
ICEPEN’s member agencies are from 38 countries: Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Canada, Chile, China, Costa Rica, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Egypt, Estonia, France, Finland, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, and the United States. Five partner agencies that are not yet full members include Bulgaria, El Salvador, Panama, Turkey, and Barbados. Also attending are guest agencies from countries including Brazil, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Honduras, Mongolia, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Papua New Guinea, Peru, South Africa, Tanzania, and Vietnam.
The Federal Trade Commission works for consumers 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, visit the FTC s online Complaint Assistant or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357). The FTC enters complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to more than 1,800 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad. The FTC s Web site provides free information on a variety of consumer topics.