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DTI Targets Noncompliant Online Sellers Across Social Media Platforms

In its relentless pursuit of enforcing consumer protection laws, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has recently carried out a comprehensive sweep of Facebook's marketplace, unveiling a startling number of noncompliant merchants based in the Philippines. Over the span of just one week, the DTI's Legit Check initiative identified 37 sellers flouting the law, engaging in various violations, ranging from the absence of product prices to the use of counterfeit business permits.

The discovery of these offenders has raised serious concerns for the government agency, as it suspects that these 37 cases represent only a fraction of the problem rampant on online platforms. Marcus Valdez II, the Director at the DTI's Consumer Policy and Advocacy Bureau, expressed his dismay, citing the alarming presence of fake business registrations as an act of falsifying official documents.

As a consequence of these findings, the DTI has promptly taken action by referring certain cases to the National Bureau of Investigation. Furthermore, they are collaborating directly with the Philippine National Police to expedite the apprehension of online sellers who employ fraudulent permits.

To tackle this issue more comprehensively, the DTI has expanded its scope beyond Facebook's marketplace. They are now targeting noncompliant sellers on other prominent online platforms, including Instagram, TikTok, Carousell, Shopee, and Lazada. This multi-platform approach aims to curb the proliferation of illegitimate sellers across the digital landscape.

Trade Undersecretary Ruth Castelo emphasized the necessity of updating existing consumer protection laws to match the ever-evolving digital landscape. She expressed hope for swift amendments to the Consumer Act of the Philippines, which has been in effect for more than 30 years. Additionally, Castelo highlighted the proposed Internet Transaction Act, which would further empower authorities to combat digital offenses.

Looking ahead, the DTI eagerly anticipates the mention of these crucial measures during the upcoming State of the Nation Address. By garnering support from the highest levels of government, they believe that accelerated progress can be achieved.

In conclusion, the DTI's relentless efforts to ensure compliance among online sellers have shed light on the prevalence of noncompliant merchants operating on social media platforms. By expanding their scope and enlisting the help of law enforcement agencies, the DTI is taking concrete steps to protect consumers from fraudulent practices. The call for updated legislation reflects the urgency of adapting to the ever-changing digital landscape, fortifying the foundation for a secure and trustworthy online marketplace.

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