Empiru and subsidiaries Statempire and Mijn Verklaring manage websites such as mijnstatement.nl, mijnurgentie.nl, mijnkentekendicht.nl, socialepremie.nl and mijnonlineloket.nl. They ensure that their ads rank at the top of Google for specific government services searches, and falsely claim that an application will cycle through them faster or have a higher chance of success. Also, consumers cannot get a refund if they find they still have to pay the government themselves.
ACM’s Director of Consumers, Edwin van Houten, cites the deception of the companies’ profit model. “Online advertising brings consumers to the intermediary website and pays extra for a service that is cheaper direct from the government. This form of consumer deception needs to stop.”
Also, ratings of the services are no longer reliable as discounts are offered for positive comments. This gives consumers an overly rosy picture of the services that companies offer.
ACM believes that when companies provide complete information about what they are doing and what it costs, consumers will no longer be misled. If this turns out to be not the case, the regulator wants to take stricter measures to deal with these types of locations.
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