Consumers reminded vs. fraudulent transactions as online sellers surge to over 85,000 this year

Marje Pelayo   •   December 4, 2020   •   255

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said thousands of online sellers applied for registration in the agency in only less than a year.

From only 1,642 registered online retail businesses in 2019, the number increased to 85,451 this year.

DTI Undersecretary Ruth Castelo said the surge in number may be a result of the government’s intensified campaign to support small and medium enterprises and perhaps because of the public’s interest to venture into online business due to the limitations caused by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

Despite this, however, the DTI also noted the significant increase in the number of complaints against online sellers from 2,500 in 2019 to more than 15,000 this year.

Thus, the agency reminds the public to always transact with legitimate merchants.

“Hindi lahat ng nakikita natin sa Internet ay totoo [Not all that we see on the Internet are true],” Castelo said.

“Hindi lahat ng advertisement ay totoo. At hindi lahat ng sellers ay legitimate [Not all advertisements are true and not all sellers are legitimate] so we also have to be careful,” she added.

According to Atty. Vic Dimagiba of Laban Konsyumer, consumers must carefully check the product that they desire to buy online.

To do this, the public may note the following tips:

  • Read the terms and conditions;
  • Check if the seller is legitimate and has a high trust rating.
  • Make a canvas on other online sellers to get the best price and product quality.
  • Make sure that the credit card you will use has a security or anti-fraud feature.
  • Prefer cash-on-delivery option to make sure that the product you will receive is the one posted online.
  • Avoid buying luxury items online.
  • Use a password not easy to predict.
  • Check the expiration date of the product if applicable.

Don’t be an impulsive consumer. Kailangan lang gamitin natin yung ating common sense sa pagbili online [We have to use our common sense when buying online],” Dimagiba noted.

The consumer group also appeals to sellers to be true to their customers and this will also add to the confidence to buy their product.

“Iyon ay magdudulot at magbibigay sa inyo ng trust rating o tiwala na voluntarily na nanggagaling sa market. Meaning sa mga consumers, magkakaroon kayo ng endorsement plus testimonial [That will give you a trust rating that voluntarily comes from the market. Meaning from consumers. You will get endorsements plus testimonials],” he said. MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

DTI warns of estafa charges against prank orders

Marje Pelayo   •   December 24, 2020

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) warns shoppers who make prank purchases online this holiday season that they can be charged with estafa.

According to DTI Undersecretary Ruth Castelo, pulling pranks when ordering is penalized under the Revised Penal Code with imprisonment once proven.

Prank ordering means a customer would order food or any item online with the intention of cancelling later on.

Castelo said they have partnered with the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) in addressing the complaints that they will be receiving regarding the matter.

Victims of prank orders must keep the record of the transaction such as text message, contact number, time and date of the transaction and other pertinent information.

“Makukulong iyan. Kailangan lang tulungan din tayo ng complainant kung siya iyong seller o iyong food delivery platforms na makapag-complain siya. Mag-execute ng affidavit at makapag-complain. Tutulungan natin sila, sa PNP or sa NBI,” Castelo said.

[They will be jailed. We just need the cooperation of the complainants, whether he or she is the seller or from the food delivery platforms, in lodging their complaint. They should execute an affidavit. We will help them together with the PNP and the NBI.]

Meanwhile, the DTI advised online shoppers to verify the authenticity of the online store they are purchasing from so as not to be deceived or dismayed of the purchased products.

While online sellers are increasing since the pandemic, complaints are also piling up against bogus transactions which reached up to over 15,000 this year as compared to 2,500 in 2019.

At the House of Representatives, House Bill 7805 or the Internet Transaction Act that seeks protection to merchants, customers and even to third party service providers or ride-hailing providers.

Bogus buyers will face a penalty of up to P50,000 while errant merchants and ride-hailing service providers will have to pay up to P500,000 fine if violations are proven. MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

DTI, nagbabala vs pagbili ng mga iligal at substandard na mga pailaw

Robie de Guzman   •   December 18, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Muling nagbabala sa publiko ang Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) laban sa pagbili ng holiday lights na walang kaukulang dokumento at product label.

Ginawa ng DTI ang babala matapos mag-inspeksyon sa isang pamilihan sa Quezon City kung saan nakumpiska ang mga pailaw na walang selyo o Import Commodity Clearance (ICC) at Philippine Standard (PS) mark.

May nakita rin ang DTI na mga pailaw na walang maayos na manufacturing label habang ang ilan naman ay nakasulat sa ibang wika.

Ayon kay DTI Undersecretary Ruth Castelo, delikadong gamitin ang mga ganitong produkto lalo’t isa sa mga dahilan ng mga insidente ng sunog kapag holiday season ay ang mga palyadong holiday lights.

Payo ni Castelo sa mga mamimili, siguruhing may PS mark ang bibilhing produkto dahil nangangahulugan itong pasado ang produkto sa standard.

“Hanapin nila yung PS Mark na ini-issue ng Bureau of Philippine Standards para sigurado silang na-test yung produkto bago nila bilhin. Kasi kung hindi iyon na-test, hindi natin alam, pwedeng safe, pwedeng hindi, pero manghuhula ang consumer niyan,” ang pahayag ni Castelo.

Ayon sa DTI, iligal ang holiday lights na walang kaukulang selyo at maaaring maharap sa mabigat parusa ang may-ari ng tindahan kung hindi nito matutukoy ang importer ng mga naturang produkto.

“Penalty maximum under the Consumer Act as a fine is 300,000 pesos. But there’s a concomitant criminal liability na may kulong. And then we can also file a case, kasong violation ng product labelling yon di ba, may Revised Penal Code pa,” ang pahayag ni Castelo. – RRD (mula sa ulat ni Correspondent Asher Cadapan Jr.)

DTI opens business program for workers affected by pandemic

Robie de Guzman   •   December 17, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), together with the Philippine Trade Training Center, has virtually launched a program that seeks to provide business mentoring and training for displaced and retrenched workers due to the pandemic.

The program, called Building an Entrepreneurial Society of Tomorrow Bootcamp: Accept, Adapt, and Act (BEST Bootcamp: 3A), conducts an integrated approach using lectures, case studies, business pitching workshop, mentoring, recital, and drillmaster sessions, the DTI said.

“It is designed specifically for employees of MSMEs (micro, small, medium enterprises), private school teachers, and other retrenched workers affected during this pandemic period,” it added.

Aspiring entrepreneurs with an identified passion or hobby that they want to turn into a profitable venture may also join the program.

“This entrepreneurship program is part of DTI’s 7Ms Framework for Successful Entrepreneurship, which covers Mindset, Mastery, Mentoring, Market, Money, Machines, and Models of Negosyo,” DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez said in a statement.

The trade chief said the 7Ms are essential components for MSME development, and “will provide our people the needed entrepreneurial skills and knowledge.”

“All participants of the program will gain knowledge on the best practices for a successful entrepreneurship journey, coming from the experiences of our mentors and experts who have specialized in their fields of business,” he added.

Around 75-80 participants will be chosen to undergo the entire mentoring and training program. They will be provided with livelihood kits when they complete the program.

Aside from the 3A Program, DTI’s BEST Bootcamp also offers the Resilience, Recovery, and Rebuild (3R) Program, which focuses on entrepreneurial re-alignment, pivots, and balanced planning in running existing business ventures. 

Interested participants may send a message email BEST@pttc.gov.ph for more details.

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