OECD Governments have worked together to implement the OECD Guidelines on Cross-border Fraud
13/07/2006: Recent statistics show increasing numbers of cross–border fraud that victimise consumers and harm legitimate business in the global marketplace. In a June 2006 report, the European Consumer Centre Network reveals that e-commerce complaints more than doubled between 2004 and 2005. Similarly, a 2006 report from the US Federal Trade Commission shows that cross-border fraud complaints jumped from 16% of all complaints in 2004 to 20% of all complaints in 2005. Fifty-one percent of cross-border fraud complaints in 2005 were Internet-related.
To address this problem, in 2003, the OECD adopted the Cross-border Fraud Guidelines to provide member countries with the tools to build up closer, faster, and more efficient domestic and international consumer protection enforcement schemes. A report released today by the OECD shows that, over the past three years, OECD member countries have made continued progress in implementing the Guidelines (the full text of the Guidelines and of the report is available at http://www.oecd.org/consumer-policy).
New laws have been adopted or amended at the domestic level to grant member country consumer protection agencies with more authority and to enhance domestic co-ordination with other involved government bodies. Various public-private partnerships have contributed to successful fraud investigations and to sophisticated business and consumer education campaigns.
Member countries have actively shared experiences and best practices through ICPEN, an informal network of consumer protection agencies, and through the London Action Plan, another informal network fighting against spam. A multitude of bilateral and multilateral arrangements have been concluded to specifically implement the principles on notification, information sharing, and mutual investigative assistance in the Guidelines. In parallel, these efforts are being implemented at the EU/EEA level through the setting up of a network of consumer protection enforcement authorities following the adoption in 2004 of an EU/EEA Regulation on Consumer Protection Co-operation.
These co-operative enforcement activities have resulted in landmark cross-border fraud cases. Consumer protection authorities have been successful in compensating consumer victims of fraud both in their own countries and abroad. In 2005, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission recovered AUD 119 million of consumer losses, while Competition Bureau Canada returned over USD 18,000 to 14 victims in Australia.
However, remaining challenges need to be addressed to combat cross-border fraud and ultimately preserve consumer confidence in the global marketplace. Simplified notification and information sharing procedures should be put in place to ensure effective enforcement actions. Member country enforcement bodies would further benefit from additional resources, as well as from technical and linguistic training to develop their capacity to handle cross-border fraud cases. Finally, more detailed statistics would help measure the impact of cross-border fraud. For further information, journalists are invited to contact Brigitte Acoca, OECD's Science, Technology and Industry Directorate (tel.  1 45 24 93 65).