Paying someone to write or post fake customer reviews will become illegal under new plans unveiled by the government.
Companies offering subscriptions will also need to offer clearer descriptions of what consumers sign up for – and ensure they can be canceled easily.
Other tactics used to manipulate customers into spending more than they want are also in the spotlight.
Meanwhile, prepayment programs that save shoppers for Christmas will need to protect the cash paid out.
Hopefully this will prevent a repeat of scandals such as Farepak, where some low-income people lost their savings when the business collapsed.
New efforts are also being made to prevent consumer complaints from being taken to court.
Businesses where consumers often make large one-time purchases, such as those that provide used cars or home renovations, will be required to participate in arbitration or mediation whenever a dispute arises about a transaction. .
Consumer and Small Business Minister Paul Scully said, “Business is built on trust. When consumers part with their hard-earned money, they are entitled to expect value for their money. Cowboy builders are not welcome in 21 – century Britain.
“As we rebuild in a fairer way, we will protect the British public from abuse and help small businesses thrive. “
Tougher penalties will be imposed on unscrupulous traders who break these rules – and new powers mean that regulators will be able to impose fines of up to 10% of a breaching company’s global revenue.
There could also be ramifications for larger companies, as the Competition and Markets Authority will be able to block a wider range of damaging mergers.
This includes so-called killer acquisitions where large companies capture potential rivals before they can launch new services or products.
Which? urged the government to ensure these proposals are implemented swiftly, and warned that the pandemic has exposed weaknesses in current measures designed to prevent unscrupulous companies from targeting customers.