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New UK CMA powers to further protect consumers

The UK Government has announced reforms that will aim to protect consumers from being ripped off, as well as boosting competition.

Plans are set to include making it illegal to pay someone to write or host a fake review to mislead consumers.

The Government is also giving the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) more power to tackle rip-offs and bad business practices. The CMA will have the ability to directly enforce consumer law, including new powers to fine businesses up to 10% of their global turnover for mistreating customers.

The CMA will also have stronger tools to tackle companies conspiring to bump up prices, and to combat acquisitions where big businesses purchase rivals before launching new products or services.

Andrea Coscelli, chief executive of the CMA, said: “This is an important milestone towards strengthening the CMA’s ability to hold companies to account, promote fair and open markets, and protect UK consumers.

“The CMA stands ready to assist the government to ensure that legislation can be brought forward as quickly as possible, so consumers and businesses can benefit. Competition law is reserved and therefore extends to the whole of the UK.”

The changes come as a benefit to the ticketing industry, as some 4,982 people fell victim to ticket fraud in the 2021-22 financial year, according to new data from the national reporting centre for fraud and cybercrime, Action Fraud.

The organisation received 623 reports of ticket fraud in September last year, which was the highest number of reports received since March 2020, before events stopped due to the pandemic.

Detective chief inspector for the City of London Police, Craig Mullish, said: “Criminals took advantage of coronavirus restrictions being lifted last summer and targeted victims looking for tickets to high-profile sporting events and festivals.

“We have seen reports of ticket fraud rise further this year as well. Many festivals and events for the summer have already sold out, so don’t be deceived by offers on secondary ticketing websites or social media, as this is often where criminals will advertise fake tickets to popular and sold-out events. Remember: if a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”

Members of the ticketing industry have praised the move, with The Ticket Factory’s director Richard Howle welcoming the aim of cracking down “on rogue traders who seek to rip off ticket buyers”.

Image: Dorel Gnatiuc on Unsplash