The changes that were made to the Fair Trading Act, which commenced in August last year, made it easier for Fair Trading to bring rogue traders to heel. Historically, the Office of Fair Trading would have to apply to the Supreme Court to commence action against a trader in a case like this. Now the onus of proof is on traders to substantiate their claims or they may face prosecution through the Local Court system. Vulnerable consumers are susceptible to get-rich-quick schemes, wellbeing products and promises of eternal youth. While Fair Trading is actively taking on advertisers who make claims that may lure unsuspecting consumers into parting with their money, consumers also need to be on their guard. In the past 12 months Fair Trading has received 23 complaints about claims or behaviour by traders relating to wealth creation and get-rich-quick schemes.
While we would all like to believe that advertisements are always truthful, consumers should keep in mind that if an offer seems too good to be true it probably is. These amendments to the Fair Trading Act give greater protection to unsuspecting consumers by enabling Fair Trading to act quickly before significant detriment can occur.