Beware of the Covid-19 Fund Scam
The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) would like to warn the general public and small businesses to be cautious of scams requesting them to submit their banking information for having qualified for government’s 50% Covid-19 intervention fund.
This follows complaints received by the Commission from the general public that some individuals are sending text messages requesting people to verify their bank account details as a prerequisite to having money credited in their account when in fact not.
The Commission has noted that fraudsters have taken advantage of the Covid-19 pandemic to extort money from unsuspecting individuals by using various electronic platforms with intent to divert money to their personal accounts. The public may wish to know that the Government will never request for personal banking details using an SMS or WhatsApp channel.
Further, the Commission urges the public not to offer or disclose their banking information like name, date of birth, phone number and card serial numbers to over SMS, WhatsApp or the unsecure Internet pages as doing so would put them at great risk of losing their hard earned money to fraudsters.
In view of the foregoing, the Commission is working with the Zambia Information and Communication Technologies Authority (ZICTA) and Zambia Police to ensure that perpetrators of such fraudulent conduct are identified and punished. Therefore, all such cases should be reported to a nearest police station or to the Commission on the toll-free line 5678 or the ZICTA toll free line 7070.
Members of the public may wish to know that this fraudulent conduct is prohibited under Section 308 of the Penal Code Chapter 87 of the Laws of Zambia and offenders are liable to imprisonment for 3 years.
Seeking Redress after Cancellation of Events Due to Covid-19
The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) helps consumers exercise their right to redress as provided for under Section 49 (7) (a) of the Competition and Consumer Protection Act (CCPA) No.24 of 2010.
In this light, the Commission takes cognizance of the fact that there are numerous events that have resulted in cancellation during the period of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Thus, the Commission wishes to remind the business community that consumers have the right to refund in circumstances when the cancellation is not due to no fault of their own.
The Commission is also alive to the fact that the pandemic and the measures put in place by the Government of the Republic of Zambia to address it, are not in the control of the Enterprises. Should an event be covered by terms and conditions that deal with instances of Force Majeure, those terms and conditions prevail.
The Commission would like to state that during the Covid-19 period, all business enterprises have an obligation to refund consumers when the service paid for has not been given.
However, we also advise consumers to give enterprises reasonable indulgent time within which to settle their refunds as these times are unprecedented and the effect is felt by all.
Enterprises are encouraged to be innovative in providing consumers alternatives to the services paid for, e.g. vouchers (with sufficient time within which a consumer can make a claim), postponement to mutually acceptable dates, etc. However, the consumer has the discretion to opt for a refund should the alternative not suffice.
In dealing with the question of whether a full refund should be available, several factors are to be considered, including when the event was scheduled to take place. These factors would determine the amount of costs incurred by the enterprise.
It must be emphasized that even in such situations, equity demands that the weaker party in any agreement should not be left out without adequate redress. Prudence should therefore be employed, accordingly.
Beware of False Online and Mobile Banking Agents
2020-04-15The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) would like to warn the general public to be cautious of suspected false online banking agents masquerading as employees for various banking institutions in the country to steal from unsuspecting consumers in the wake of COVID-19.
This comes after the Commission received complaints from the general public who allege to have been victimized by unscrupulous individuals claiming to be bank agents soliciting for personal banking details from unsuspecting consumers in order to hack into their system and steal money.
CCPC Director Consumer Protection Brian Lingela has issued the warning observing that with the use of online and mobile banking services in view of the COVID 19 outbreak that has necessitated the use of online and mobile banking services, consumers of such services were now at risk of being attacked by fraudsters posing as online commercial bank agents to extort money.
“We have noticed that since most consumers now use online and mobile banking services as an alternative to physical banking following COVID 19, fraudsters are moving swiftly to try and extort money by phoning unsuspecting consumers asking them to change their personal details like the Personal Identification Number (PIN) in order to for instance migrate them to a bank’s new system when in fact not.”
He has urged Consumers to take precautionary measures by verifying the authenticity of such suspected online and mobile banking agents with respective
commercial banks and ensure that they do not disclose their personal banking information such as names, account, PIN numbers as well as National Registration Card (N.R.C) details to suspicious individuals to avoid being swindled.
The Commission will work with the Zambia Information and Communication Technologies Authority (ZICTA) and Zambia Police to ensure that perpetrators of such fraudulent conduct are identified and punished. Such fraudulent conduct is prohibited under Section 308 of the Penal Code Chapter 87 of the Laws of Zambia and offenders are liable to imprisonment for 3 years
CCPC Warns Business Outlets Against Excessive Pricing of Sanitary Products for Prevention of Covid-19
2020-03-20The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) is concerned with and would like to warn all individuals and businesses who are excessively pricing the cost of sanitary products for the prevention of Covid-19.
From the preliminary investigations conducted by the Commission, it has been noted that some deceitful traders across the country are taking advantage of the current situation to overcharge on sanitary products like masks, gloves and hand sanitizers to the detriment of consumers.
The Act provides for the Commission’s functions under Section 5 being among others to : review the trading practices pursued by enterprises doing business in Zambia; investigate unfair trading practices and unfair contract terms and impose such sanctions as may be necessary; act as a primary advocate for competition and effective consumer protection in Zambia and do all such acts and things as are necessary, incidental or conducive to the better carrying out of its functions under this Act.
The Commission thus wishes to warn all perpetrators that such unjustified high pricing of these essential products is unlawful as provided for under the Competition and Consumer Protection Act (CCPA) No. 24 of 2010 and will not hesitate to impose necessary sanctions on erring enterprises.
The Commission is thus appealing to all business outlets to desist from charging unreasonably high prices as this is against the law and affects public health. In view of the foregoing pandemic, the Commission through its inspectors across the country will ensure that all individuals and companies exacerbating such conduct are identified and punished.
Although hand sanitisers are one of the convenient products of maintaininghygiene during this pandemic, consumers are advised to use other hygiene products such as hand wash or any other anti-bacterial soaps which are readily available in most retail outlets around the country. The Commission also encourages and advises consumers to report
any of the enterprises engaging in such conduct in order for the Commission to take necessary action using ththe Commission’s Toll-Free Line 5678 on all mobile networks or by email: firstname.lastname@example.org during working hours. Consumers are further urged to ensure that they obtain receipts for all such transactions and that the said receipts should be safely kept and submitted to the Commission for investigation purposes. The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (the Commission) is a Statutory Body whose existence has been continued under the Competition and Consumer Protection Act (the Act) No. 24 of 2010 following the repeal and replacement of the Competition and Fair Trading Act, 1994. The objective of the Act places responsibility on the Commission to safeguard and promote competition and protect consumers against unfair trade practices.