The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) today reported that it received 80,450 complaints related to internet auctions in 2005, representing about 12 percent of the total number of complaints. According to the organization, the latest figures indicate that web auction fraud has become responsible for the second most common kind of complaint after those about identity theft.
In a bid to fight the growing danger posed by online auction scammers, the FTC and its partners in government and the technology industry today unveiled a new section of the OnGuardOnline.gov website that aims to help buyers and sellers spot and avoid internet auction fraud. The site features an interactive game, "Auction Action," that is designed to allow consumers to rack up points answering auction-related questions from different categories.
The new website aims to explain how internet auctions work, the pros and cons of using different payment options, and how – as a buyer or seller – you can avoid the most common types of fraud.
"The internet auction complaints consumers sent to the FTC generally dealt with late shipments, no shipments, or shipments of products that weren't the same quality as advertised; bogus online payment or escrow services; and fraudulent dealers who lured bidders from legitimate auction sites with seemingly better deals," the FTC stated. "Most complaints involved sellers, but in some cases, the buyers were the subject. The information on OnGuardOnline.gov includes tips for avoiding these frauds and others."
In addition to the auction information, OnGuardOnline.gov covers other online safety topics, including spyware, identity theft, phishing, and spam scams. The multimedia, interactive consumer education campaign was launched last fall by the FTC and a partnership of other federal agencies and the technology industry.
According to the FTC, OnGuardOnline.gov has received over 650,000 unique visits, and the organization has distributed over 800,000 brochures and bookmarks. The FTC stressed that there is no copyright on the quizzes or other information on its OnGuardOnline.gov; the information can be downloaded by companies and other organizations to use in their own computer security programs.