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Beware of internet scams

HAVE you ever been page-jacked or mouse-trapped? Both businesses and consumers need to be aware of this Internet scam that has recently affected some major Australian companies.

Page-jacking takes Internet users to unsolicited sites (often pornographic or gambling sites) and mouse-trapping prevents them from leaving.

Mouse-trapping often works by disabling the user’s Internet browser so that when the user tries to quit, more pornographic websites are shown.

Much of the material on these websites is offensive and in some organisations accessing such sites can lead to a reprimand or dismissal. In other cases, a business may lose customers who believe that the business is in some way associated with the offensive site. Page-jackers have recently targeted a number of Australian organisations. In one case, a search on the key words in the organisation’s name using a particular search engine produced 50 sites, the first 47 of which were pornographic and gambling sites.

Web-jacking is a global phenom-enon. The ACCC recently worked with the US Federal Trade Commission to break a global Internet scam with Australian connections that took unsuspecting users to pornographic sites and then prevented them from leaving.

Part of the ACCC’s role in protecting consumers and promoting fair trading is to prevent conduct via the Internet that might contravene the Trade Practices Act.

If you feel that you or your organisation have been the target of an Internet scam and you would like help resolving the matter, you can also contact the ACCC by e-mail (sydcomp@accc.gov.au) or by phoning (02) 9230 9133.

l Professor Allan Fels is chairman of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

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