Facebook rated least safe e-commerce option in government rankings

Singapore's safety scheme measures scam-combatting capability


A newly implemented e-commerce rating system in the city-state of Singapore has rated Facebook's Marketplace as the least trustworthy e-commerce platform, behind Amazon and its Alibaba-owned Asian analogue Lazada.

The ratings system, known as the E-commerce Marketplace Transaction Safety Ratings (TSR) [PDF], was launched on May 14th by the Inter-Ministry Committee on Scams (IMCS).

The four-tier rating scheme rates e-commerce players on guarantees of user authenticity, transaction safety, dispute resolution, and ability to act effectively to protect customers.

Amazon, Lazada and another Southeast Asia e-commerce platform Qoo10 were deemed to meet all four requirements. Facebook Marketplace met only one - perhaps a reflection of its peer-to-peer sales status meaning it does not ned some of the protections of rival platforms. The ratings will be updated yearly.

Singaporean authorities plan six-monthly updates to help consumers better understand which e-commerce platforms are safe. Those updates will offer additional data such as whether platforms adequately maintain transaction records and user data.

The IMCS initiatives don’t stop there: the Committee also updated Singapore's Guidelines for Electronic Commerce Transaction known as Technical Reference 76 (TR76) which are designed to help e-retailers and e-marketplaces provide more secure transactions.

The Ministry of Home Affairs and Singapore Standards advocated the use of TR76 as a guideline for platforms to score higher on the TSR.

The ratings scheme and revised regulations come months after Singapore experienced a wave of phishing and tech support scams.

In the first half of May 2022, at least 15 victims lost more than $8,600 to scammers posing on consumer-to-consumer e-commerce site Carousell, which was awarded a rating of two, just above Facebook Marketplace in the TSR.

Last Saturday, Singapore Police announced an investigation of over 306 people for involvement in 941 scam cases totalling $4.6 million. The scams included business e-mail impersonations, fake mails from individuals falsely claiming to be government officials, fake friend calls, romance scams, and attempts and spruiking false investments, jobs, loans and tech support.

And in February 2022, the Overseas-Chinese Banking Corporation (OCBC) bank experienced a phishing scam that resulted in the theft of over $10 million. Singapore’s presumptive prime minister, Lawrence Wong said customers and banks would have a shared responsibility for any losses in the future in order to prevent a "weaken[ed] incentive to be vigilant" on the part of the customer.

OCBC, under pressure from the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to adopt more stringent anti-scam measures, eventually offered goodwill paybacks to all the victims.

MAS said it is working on a framework to define and divide responsibility in future scams. ®


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