CMA to clamp down on fake reviews and subscription traps in the UK

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The UK government has announced some new reforms that will give the CMA the ability to clamp down on fake reviews and subscription traps, better protecting UK consumers from falling victim to illegal scams online.

The average UK household spends about £900 each year, influenced by online reviews, as well as £60 on unwanted subscriptions. With the British public tightening their belts thanks to rising prices, these reforms aim to ensure consumers are well informed with trustworthy information and have full control over their purchasing decisions.

The new reforms will make it illegal to pay someone to write or host fake reviews, as well as prevent consumers from getting stuck in subscription traps by requiring businesses to make it easy for consumers to opt out of subscriptions they no longer want.

Prepayment schemes like Christmas savings clubs will have to fully safeguard customers’ money through insurance or trust accounts to prevent people losing money if a company goes bust.

The CMA will now be able to directly enforce consumer law, including new powers to fine firms up to 10% of their global turnover for mistreating customers. This replaces going through a court process which can take years. 

Competitive markets create a level playing field for businesses and give consumers better products, greater choice, and lower prices by encouraging companies to compete for customers. The CMA will have stronger tools to tackle companies colluding to bump-up prices and to combat ‘killer acquisitions’ in which big businesses snap up rivals before they can launch new products or services.

No longer will you visit a 5 star-reviewed restaurant only to find a burnt lasagne or get caught in a subscription in which there’s no end in sight. Consumers deserve better and the majority of businesses out there doing the right thing deserve protection from rogue traders undermining them.

– Paul Skully, Consumer Minister

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