Saudi Arabia: CPA warns consumers against dealing with Instagram accounts1

The Consumer Protection Association (CPA) is an association in Saudi Arabia, that aims at protecting the consumer's interests; safeguarding and defending consumer rights; representing consumers before the public and private bodies; protecting him/her against all kinds of adulteration, counterfeit, fraud, deceit, falsification and exaggerated prices; and promote consumer awareness and rationalized consumption.

In the wake of the increased number of online frauds, the CPA has recently warned all consumers from engaging in commercial transactions via the medium of Instagram, by giving a number of reasons for such warnings. One of the main reasons is that the CPA has received an increased number of complaints of fraud faced by consumers for transactions that they carried out through the Instagram application with respect to clothes and gowns, electronic games, recharging cards and the Internet cards.

The CPA made it clear that Instagram is a social networking website and should not be used for commercial purposes.

CPA explained that when there is a dispute which involves the transfer of funds to Instagram accounts from personal bank accounts in the names of individuals inside or outside the Kingdom, it turns the nature of the transaction into a dispute between individuals rather than a commercial dispute. Hence the process of refunding the money paid becomes complicated since it no longer comes under the purview of the commercial rules and regulations.

Other reasons too were cited, such as the fact that Instagram accounts do not meet the e-commerce requirements sought by the Ministry of Commerce, the absence of electronic payment, the lack of display of the commercial registration and tax number, and the absence of a clear and written policy for exchanges and returns of goods.

This is because most of the Instagram accounts are individual ones and not affiliated with or associated with institutions or companies registered in the Kingdom.

There were a few measures that the association reminded the consumers to keep in mind while undertaking purchases from electronic stores, such as:

* Enquire with the Ministry of Commerce or from the CPA so as to verify the validity of the commercial registration.

* The association provides a free online store inquiry service to all consumers in the Kingdom in order to ascertain if a particular website is registered in the fraud data, monitored by the association.

Such precautionary vigilance points out that the Kingdom seeks to develop safer commercial activities for better business practices so as to better the market competitiveness.



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