The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has intensified its scrutiny of online sellers, particularly those offering mystery boxes or parcels, to ensure consumer protection and uphold fair trade practices.

DTI Assistant Secretary Amanda Nograles said all online shops selling mystery items are subject to stringent verification procedures requiring them to provide evidence regarding the sourcing of the items they offer on their platforms.

Nograles said sellers must substantiate the items’ origin, demonstrating that they have acquired them through legal means. This could include proof of purchase from valid auctions or confirmation that the items were legally obtained from sources such as the Bureau of Customs (BOC) or through legitimate means like through abandoned parcels or “balikbayan” boxes.

“Kailangan iyong online seller ay makapagbigay ng ganoong ebidensiya; ngayon kung hindi, puwede natin siyang ipa-takedown doon sa platform – we have a good relationship with most online shopping platforms and kapag ni-request po ng DTI, napapakiusapan po natin na tini-takedown iyong mga seller na ganito at nang hindi po makabiktima ng mga consumers natin (The online seller needs to provide such evidence; now if not, we can have them taken down from the platform – we have a good relationship with most online shopping platforms, and when requested by the DTI, we ask them to have such sellers taken down so that they cannot victimize consumers),” she said.

Nograles said the DTI is regularly monitoring online stores.

Some items inside mystery boxes or parcels are illegally sourced, such as stolen products from warehouses, which is against the Anti-Fencing Law, the DTI official said.

The Anti-Fencing Law prohibits the selling of stolen goods or items obtained through illicit means. Both sellers and buyers can be charged if these items were stolen.

The DTI’s move to tighten regulations on online sellers aims to safeguard consumers from potentially fraudulent or unsafe products while also promoting transparency and accountability within the e-commerce sector, Nograles said.

She added that with these measures, the DTI remains committed to fostering a fair and secure online marketplace for all consumers.PNA