Thousands of people claim to be victims of the Muaban24 Online Trade and Training Co (MB24), which was lately found to be fraudulent. Many people have been concerned about the safety of e-commerce activities. Viet Nam News got advice from a Ministry of Industry and Trade officer, a lawyer and an entrepreneur for how customers should protect themselves from e-commerce fraud.
Tran Huu Linh, head of the E-commerce and Information Technology Agency, Ministry of Industry and Trade
Lately, the Viet Nam E-commerce and Information Technology Agency (VECITA) has co-ordinated closely with relevant ministries and sectors to work on enterprises operating e-commerce activities. According to our report, there are about 40 other models similar to MB24.
|Tran Huu Linh
E-commerce in Viet Nam has seen rapid development in the past few years. The number of Internet users has increased and the number of people creating accounts on websites and participating in online transactions has also increased. By late 2011, VECITA got a report of more than 1.5 million transactions on 30 sites with total revenue of VND4.1 trillion (US$196 million).
The Government has assigned the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) to create a new decree to replace the current decree on e-commerce issued in 2006. The draft decree is now inviting public comments. In this draft decree, one regulation stipulates that the multi-level marketing model will be banned from e-commerce. So when the decree takes affect, the model like MB24 can no longer exist.
Meanwhile, MoIT and VECITA recommend that people, customers, individuals and organisations not join similar models. They are also encouraged to report enterprises with similar business activities like MB24 to VECITA so that we can interfere in a timely fashion.
Also we have asked the media to work closely with VECITA in disseminating information widely about these activities.
Lawyer Quan Van Minh, the Ha Noi-based National No5 Lawfirm
At the moment, trading on e-commerce websites in Viet Nam is mostly between individuals while the website acts as the middleman. Such activities are not bound by existing laws and have thus led to fraudulent activities. A legal framework is very necessary to protect consumers.
|Quan Van Minh
We have had the Law on E-transactions since 2005 and other by-laws such as decrees and circular guiding the implementation of e-commerce. However, the notion of protecting personal information in the online sphere is still new in Viet Nam.
In the case of MB24, we can see that most of the victims were farmers, workers and the unemployed with limited understanding of e-commerce. As a result, they were credulous and influenced by peer pressure.
To protect their rights in e-commerce fraud, customers should report their cases to police as soon as possible. Relevant authorities should work on these cases and disseminate information about this kind of business to the people.
Enterprises which violate the regulations on e-commerce should get appropriate punishments for the consequences they cause.
Nguyen Hoa Binh, President & CEO of PeaceSoft Solutions Corporation
In fact, when e-commerce develops, fraud activities will also become more and sophisticated. In most cases, customers will suffer the most. This has affected the customers' trust and hindered the development of trust-worthy websites. The weaknesses of e-commerce activities at the moment are transport and payment.
|Nguyen Hoa Binh
So to help people avoid fraud from online trading, I think customers should only trust reputable websites that have been licensed by Governmental management agencies such as MoIT and the Ministry of Information and Communications. Such websites have a big number of customers. Also the payment should only be done through online payment tools licensed by the State bank.
As for enterprises who want to open private websites for retail, they can also equip themselves with certificates to ensure customers' trust that are guaranteed by a third party.
After all, customers should not be led by greed. If they hear about an opportunity to get rich quickly, they should not immediately believe it. In fact, good e-commerce websites will just collect a fee equivalent for the services they provide without any requirements for extra payment or introducing the service to others. — VNS