The best way to protect yourself from false information is to ask yourself these questions before and after the event, a report has found.
The Australian Consumer Law Reform Commission has released a report which warns people can be deceived about what they are buying, where they can buy it and who they are purchasing it from.
The report, entitled Information Architecture, outlines the best way for consumers to gather their own information about the products they purchase, the types of products and their potential risks.
“There is a lot of misinformation out there about how to conduct an informed consent process, so I thought it would be good to provide some guidance on what questions consumers should be asking themselves before they buy a product,” Dr Helen Pritchard, director of the Australian Consumer Lawyers Association said.
“The main thing is to be upfront about the information you are giving, what you are purchasing and where you are buying it.”
“If you don’t know what you’re buying, you’re not being informed,” she said.
The CCLA report also says people should be careful to choose products that have the same quality or price points as the products you are selling.
“We want consumers to feel confident that they are getting the best value for money, and that the product is the right one for them,” Dr Pritborough said.
While it is not clear exactly what information consumers should ask before they purchase products, she recommends people ask themselves these questions:What is the product or service you are choosing?
Do you need the information to make an informed decision?
Do I want to know what the other people are thinking?
What does this information say about me?
What is my right to control my information?
The consumer law reforms are designed to prevent companies and organisations from taking advantage of consumers’ ignorance.
Dr Pritwood says consumers should also be aware of the difference between a “buyer consent” and a “consent” approval.
“Consent approval is an approved agreement between you and a retailer or supplier which you can accept, so it doesn’t need to be signed by you,” she explained.
“Buyers are responsible for their decision and they have the right to withdraw it, but they don’t have to agree to it.”
Consumer organisations such as the Australian Retailers Association have also urged consumers to ensure they know the difference.
“If someone is selling you a product and you don