Consumer complaints showed a declining trend in the past two years from about 57,000 in 2020, the Department of Trade and Industry said.
The DTI reported a 44.96-percent drop in complaints from 2020 to 31,372 in 2021 and 12.15 percent to 27,947 in 2022.
The DTI, through the through the Consumer Protection Group, noted the swift action to complaint resolutions by the Fair Trade Enforcement Bureau, a unit of the CPG, which responded on consumer concerns especially on online purchases.
“Expectedly, our CPG monitored a surge of over 57,000 consumer complaints during the first year of the pandemic in 2020 from just over 10,000 in 2019. In 2022, close to half of the almost 28,000 complaints that FTEB received involved online transactions. The most common complaints among the 12,200 were liability for product and service imperfection, among others,” Trade Secretary Alfredo Pascual said.
The CPG reported about 2,200 complaints on deceptive, unfair or unconscionable sales or practices and some 450 cased of misleading advertisement and fraudulent sales promotion practices, on top of other complaints.
Pascual said the government action on complaints had been swifter due to constant engagement of the CPG and the untiring monitoring of FTEB on consumer reports and complaints.
He said of the 12,170 complaints, almost 2,500 were resolved, a little of 9,900 were endorsed to the appropriate agencies and the rest were either withdrawn or issued certificates to file.
“The pandemic showed us the potential and significance of e-commerce as an economic recovery catalyst. Statista, the online platform on market and consumer data, predicts e- commerce sales to grow fastest in Asia and the Americas. And it puts he Philippines at the forefront, with online sales increasing by more than 25 percent,” Pascual said.
“Unfortunately, as with most things, digital method cuts both ways. Globally, from 2019 to 2022, the 80-percent increase in digital transactions resulted in 80-percent growth in suspected digital fraud attempts. This is according to a study by global information and insights firm TransUnion,” he said.
Information from TransUnion said stolen identifiers from data breaches were being weaponized to commit increasingly sophisticated fraud, as in getting a loan. Fraudsters were using every available digital channel to access consumer accounts—via text, phone call, email or messaging apps, it said.
Online scams increased six-fold in the Philippines from 2,457 cases reported in 2021 to nearly 14,869 complaints from January to October of 2020, including the seven months of community quarantine in the pandemic.
According to Statista, the top 3 most frequent fraud schemes targeting consumers in the Philippines as of the first quarter of 2022 were phishing at 42 percent; money gift card or using a stolen card number to make an online purchase, then sending it back for a refund and asking for the funds to be put on a gift card at 38 percent; and third-party seller scams on legitimate online retail websites, 30 percent. Other fraud schemes are fundraising, identity theft, account takeover, stolen credit card or fraudulent charges, and ransomware.