Online Shopping Scams on the Rise in Japan

Dec 13, 2023 - 15:57
Feb 16, 2024 - 11:05
Online Shopping Scams on the Rise in Japan

The increasing prevalence of online shopping scams in Japan is making consumers more vulnerable to fraudulent transactions. Perpetrators employ cunning tactics, from sending unordered goods to deceiving users into unintentional registrations. Scammers often utilize strategies such as selling items at unrealistically low prices or creating a false sense of urgency by falsely claiming limited stock.

Elderly individuals, less familiar with digital technology, are particularly targeted, falling victim to retailers who blur the lines between savvy marketing and outright deception.

One case involves a 70-year-old woman seeking help from a consumer relations center in the Kansai region. She purchased a "trial" facial cleanser online, only to receive a similar product a second time without placing any orders. Attempts to contact the company were in vain, and automated instructions for online cancellation left her bewildered.

According to the 2023 Consumer White Paper released by the government, a record-breaking 75,478 consumer advisory cases related to online shopping and registrations were reported in 2022. Notably, there has been a significant increase in cases involving older individuals.

Analysis by the Consumer Affairs Agency suggests that older people may struggle to recognize and differentiate information across various websites, often neglecting thorough checks during online registrations.

The term "dark patterns," coined by British user experience designer Harry Brignull in 2010, describes manipulative strategies used on fraudulent websites. These patterns exploit users' emotional and visual judgments, encouraging them to make unintended purchases or registrations.

Despite legal regulations such as the amended Commercial Transactions Act enacted in June 2021, which prohibits misleading labels and requires disclosure of specific transaction details during online purchases, there is still a need for more comprehensive legislation.

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