Economic Inspection and police: your point of contact in the event of unfair trading practices and fraud
The authority of the European Consumer Centres Network (ECC) is ‘limited’ to finding amicable solutions in the event of cross border consumer disputes. This requires cooperation from all parties involved.
What happens, however, if you are dealing with an unreliable party or fraudster? Unfortunately, the ECC cannot help you if that is the case. You can, however, contact authorities that focus specifically on unfair trading practices and fraud:
The Economic Inspection has the authority to deal with unfair trading practices. For example: a webshop fails to deliver the goods/services and you notice via reviews that you are not the only victim, telephone purchases under duress, a subscription trap.
The Economic Inspection has the authority to visit and check the company. If it identifies infringements it can respond in various ways, e.g. by issuing a warning or imposing a sanction. The latter may involve a proposed transaction (commonly referred to as an ‘amicable solution’), submitting the dossier to the relevant Public Prosecutor for criminal prosecution, imposing an administrative fine or taking the fraudulent website offline.
The Economic Inspection is part of a powerful European network of enforcement authorities chaired by the European Commission, which means that it can also take cross border action via colleagues in other EU countries. These bodies recently acquired additional authorities such as the removal of websites from the net and the imposition of administrative fines.
Are you a victim of unfair trading practices? If so, notify the Economic Inspection via its Hotline. Remember, however, that the Economic Inspection’s task, i.e. the termination of infringements, is in the general public interest, which means that it will not intervene in your individual dispute. But your notification can help put the spotlight on potential unfair trading practices.
The European Consumer Centres Network reports any complaints it has received regarding unfair trading practices during its consultations with the Economic Inspection.
Were you conned or defrauded by a private person or non-existent company? For example, if you were ordered to pay money without good reason, or asked to reveal your bank details, … Contact the police.
Preferably via a local police station or online: www.police.be/en/online-reporting.
A tip to remember: do not hesitate to issue a negative review of a webshop if you feel that you have been treated unfairly. But keep your review civil and stick to the facts, to ensure that the company cannot put any blame on you.