Under the new rules, websites that host such reviews may also be criminally liable unless they take “reasonable steps” to verify that the reviews are genuine.
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Paying someone to write a fake review will become a criminal act under proposed new laws aimed at protecting the public from rogue traders.
Websites that host such reviews can also be criminally liable unless they take “reasonable steps” to verify that the reviews are genuine, the ministers said.
According to Times reports proposed new laws may mean companies such as Trustpilot Amazon and Tripadvisor must describe what they have done to prevent companies from exploiting their systems.
The plan to stop fake reviews was released yesterday, among measures to stop scams and scams.
Other measures included creating clearer rules to make it easier for consumers to opt out of subscriptions, and cracking down on cartels and other practices that stifle competition.
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It also provided for the creation of new powers for the Competition and Markets Authority.
Under the new rules, prepayment schemes such as Christmas savings clubs will have to protect customers’ money through insurance or trust accounts.
Consumer Affairs Minister Paul Scully said: “We are ensuring that consumer protection keeps pace with a modern, digitalised economy. You don’t go to a five-star restaurant just to find a burnt lasagna anymore.”
Consumers could also no longer “get caught up in a subscription of which there is no end in sight”, he added, noting that consumers “deserved better”.
According to data from the CMA, around £23 billion a year of consumer spending, or around £900 per household, is influenced by online reviews.
According to recent studies, some 97% of shoppers rely on reviews to inform their purchases.
The new law would make it illegal to offer or advertise to submit, commission or facilitate false reviews, the government said.
Ministers intended to crack down on “subscription traps” – the term used for companies making it difficult to get out of a contract. The average household spends £60 a year on unwanted subscriptions, the government has said.
The new rules would require companies to provide clearer information to consumers before they sign up for a subscription, issue a reminder that a free or low-cost introductory offer is coming to an end, and ensure consumers can going out and contracting in a “simple and economical” way. -in an efficient and timely manner”.
Financial penalties would be imposed by the CMA with penalties of up to 10% of annual worldwide turnover for companies or up to £300,000 in the case of an individual.
Compensation may be granted directly to consumers by the regulator.
As it stands, Tripadvisor, Trustpilot, Amazon, Google, and Facebook all say they spend a lot of time and money trying to prevent fake reviews from appearing on their sites.