Website to fight cross-border online fraud launched

A new Web site was launched Tuesday to aid in the battle against online fraud. Called Econsumer.gov, the site unifies the efforts of thirteen countries, including the U.S., the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and Mexico, and will work to combat cross-border Internet fraud, according to a statement by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the organization leading the charge.

Econsumer.gov, which was announced at this week's International Marketing Supervision Network conference in New York, will be composed of two offerings: a multilingual public Web site and a password-protected, government-only Web site, according to the FTC. The public Web site will include a complaint form, contact information for consumer protection authorities and information about consumer protection, the FTC said.

An initiative like Econsumer.gov is needed because though "international e-commerce is a boon to consumers, the transnational nature of e-commerce presents challenges to traditional enforcement of consumer laws," said Eric London, an FTC spokesman.

Any information obtained through the site will be referred to the consumer rights enforcement body in the country where the offending company is located, thanks to information sharing agreements, he said. Econsumer.gov will be promoted by each country individually, London said, adding that the FTC is already pushing the site on its www.consumer.gov Web site. Econsumer.gov will not be advertised, however, due to budgetary constraints, he said.

Along with the 13 founding countries, the group hopes to find new members, London said. Membership in econsumer.gov is open to any country that is a member of the 29-country International Marketing Supervision Network, he said. "This will be an on-going process and hopefully we will add more (countries)."

The FTC will host and maintain the site, as well as retain control over it. Econsumer.gov is available in English, Spanish, French and German. The full roster of countries involved includes Finland, Hungary, Denmark, South Korea, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland.

Econsumer.gov can be found online at http://www.econsumer.gov.

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