January 1st 2018 the Consumer Ombudsman changed its name to the Consumer Authority. At the same time we were given more efficient tools to stop violations of consumer protection laws. This means, among other things, that the Consumer Authority itself can impose sanctions against traders, and that we are no longer obligated to negotiate with traders about voluntary solutions first.
– Our main priorities in the year to come are areas with great importance to consumers, and where we can achieve most in strengthening consumer protection. We will use our tools to change unlawful practices and, if necessary, react with economic sanctions against those who do not follow the law, says Elisabeth Lier Haugseth, director general of the Consumer Authority.
Marketing of consumer loans
Last year, the rules concerning marketing of consumer loans were made stricter. Among other things, bans were put in place on emphasizing how easy it is to apply for a loan, how quickly you can get feedback on your application, or how quickly you can get the money into your account. However, this has not put a halt to the marketing of consumer loans.
– In the year to come, we will supervise marketing of consumer loans in all channels. We will work to ensure that advertisers give consumers correct information about the price of the loan and that marketing is not conducted in an aggressive or misleading way. We will stop unlawful practices when necessary, says Haugseth.
New payment services
In the last couple of years new payment services have appeared, and simplified the process for transferring money for consumers. Since its launch, Vipps has obtained 2,7 million Norwegian users. Payment services like Apple Pay and Ali Pay are soon expected to enter the Norwegian market. In 2018 the Consumer Authority will pay close attention to new payment services and ensure that they don’t engage in misleading marketing or operate with unfair contract terms.
Read more: Agenda 2018 (eng)
Creative marketing of housing
While last year started with a strong growth in housing prices and widespread use of misleading pricing practices in order to attract potential buyers to a viewing, we now notice a downturn in the market. Experience shows that calm periods in the housing market have led to the use of creative marketing methods to sell both new and used real estate. The Consumer Authority will pay close attention to the marketing of housing, and ensure that one-sided positive information about the property – and things you can get in addition – don’t overshadow other important information that the buyer needs.
– Purchasing a house or flat is a big economic decision. It is therefore important that consumers get easy access to all significant information they need regarding the housing, both positive and negative. This will be an important basis to ensure that consumers can make well informed decisions, says Haugseth.
New guidelines for digital terms and conditions
Digital services have simplified the everyday life of many consumers, and made many processes more efficient. This year, the Consumer Authority will focus sharply on contract terms and conditions for digital services, like apps and internet connected things. We will among other things develop a new guide for traders.
– The guide will make it easier for developers of digital services to formulate reasonable and balanced contract terms that consumers can understand and accept. We will also stop unlawful contract terms or marketing that misleads consumers, says Haugseth.
Hidden marketing in social media
In 2018 the Consumer Authority will prioritize work on preventing hidden advertising in social media, and other manipulative marketing techniques – especially in channels where children and young adults are.
– Children and young people have particular protection against intrusive and unfair commercial practices. Advertisers that use channels where children and young people participate have a special responsibility. In the year to come, we will continue our supervision of hidden marketing in social media and marketing aimed at children in digital channels, says Haugseth.
Last year, the Consumer Authority saw an increase of 35 percent in complaints regarding telemarketing compared to 2016. On january 1st 2018 stricter rules for telemarketing were introduced. The new rules are among other things stricter regarding how traders can obtain permission to call individuals registered in the national opt-out register.
– We will prioritize supervision of telemarketing in all sectors, and ensure that the new rules are complied with. If we find examples of the opposite, we will stop unlawful practices, says Elisabeth Lier Haugseth.