Avoid Trouble -- exercise caution in online services

Announcement from the Consumer Affairs Agency

Gambling addiction

Gambling addiction is a mental disorder in which individuals become completely engrossed in gambling, leading to a loss of self-control. Gambling addiction can create obstacles in everyday and social life.

For example, in addition to causing health problems such as symptoms of depression and economic problems in the form of debt and poverty due to excessive gambling, gambling addiction can also cause family trouble and even lead to social issues such as abuse, suicide, and crime.

That said, it is possible to cure a gambling addiction through appropriate treatment and support. However, there are cases in which the individual cannot accept that he/she has a gambling addiction, and, if left untreated, not only will the symptoms worsen, so too will the economic situation of the individual.

For warnings regarding gambling addiction and support in coping with a gambling addiction, please visit the webpage below:

Related link (Japanese)
Consumer Affairs Agency -> Consumer Policies (Main Menu) -> Awareness to Prevent Consumer Damage -> To those struggling with a gambling addiction


Social game sites, customer review sites, dating sites

With the growth in Internet business and increased customer convenience, a variety of online scams are on the rise. The Consumer Affairs Agency urges users to exercise caution when using social game sites, customer review sites, and dating sites. For more information, go here .

Important points before receiving medical cosmetic treatment

There is a notable increase in the number of persons making complaints about cosmetic medical treatment such as swelling and pain. The percentage of women in their 20s is higher than any other age bracket. Make sure to check the following four points before undergoing such services.

  • Don't you blindly accept information from websites and advertisements.
  • Have you confirmed information about surgery and the medical institution you are choosing?
  • Did you ask them to explain potential risks and effects of the surgery before making a decision?
  • Is the surgery really necessary? To view a number of consultations and specific examples, view this.
Information about recalled products

Regarding products that have been recalled for exchange, inspection, or repair, more than 100 serious accidents a year take place. Please pay close attention to the latest recall information in order to prevent such accidents. To obtain recall information, view this.

Avoid vicious business practices

The National Consumer Affairs Center of Japan (NCAC) receives complaint from many students for wrong claims and troubles related to online fraud and concerns about credit cards.
Exercise caution against the following frauds and new tricks.

Illegal claim by clicking on a malicious link

"I received an email advertising celebrity photos. Just for fun, I clicked on the link. A screen popped up saying, 'Your registration has been completed. Pay 90,000 yen within 3 days.'" Even if you see such a message, don't reply, send an email, or answer your phone hastily. You must ignore such messages completely. If you are  threatened, contact the police. Do not click on links in emails from people you don't know.

Multiple debts

Although commercials encourage consumption by saying things like, "Let's enjoy shopping or cashing with credit card," using a credit card to buy things means you are in debt. Some people are deeply in debt in consumer finance and cannot pay back loans. Use a credit card within the limit of your ability to pay the bills with your monthly income. Stop indiscriminate use of a credit cards and lightly borrowing money through consumer loan firms.

Pyramid finance scheme

"Invited by a circle friend saying that there was a cushy job, I went to a seminar venue. They tried to get me involved the scheme by saying that I could make money through selling my friends health food products that I bought." Even if someone says, "It will pay for itself soon" or "You can't fail to make money," there are no such easy ways to make money fast. New recruits to such scams often end up trying to sell things to their friends. Will your friends continue to trust you?

Online shopping and auction

"I won a PC part that I had wanted on an online auction and transferred the money, but have not received the part. Later I stopped receiving all communications from the seller." "I won a designer brand bag on an online auction, but the one I received was obviously a fake." Exercise caution when paying in advance. Cooling-off does not apply for purchases made using mail order. For online shopping of expensive items, cash on delivery or escrow service is recommended. Make sure to print the screens of the seller's contact information, your application form, and a confirmation notice for the winning bidder.

Affiliate marketing

"Involved in an affiliate program, I blogged that I had lost 5kg with a dieting product. After reading my comment, a visitor to my blog bought the product, but complained about my comment." You must provide correct information on the internet. If you violate other's rights or make false claims, you could be held liable for that. Be careful.

Unscrupulous sales practice involving expensive hard-to-break contacts

On the street I was approached by a stranger. " We are conducting surveys on beauty. If you answer our questions, we will give you cosmetic samples. I answered the questionnaire in their office. Following that, another person appeared and used high-pressure sales tactics to get me to buy expensive cosmetics. Solicited in a closed room, I felt I could not go home without making a contract. " You must not follow a stranger thinking that you could get an item free. You must say no to persons who are trying to sell you unnecessary items. Do not be overwhelmed by the surrounding circumstances and sign a contract.

Romance scam

" A person I had shared my profile with through social network website asked me out for a date. On the date, he took me to the place where accessories that he had designed were on the display and urged me to buy one I liked. I signed a credit card agreement because I didn't want him to dislike me. " Be careful when you meet someone in person who you have only met online through social network sites or email correspondence. It's very strange that a first-date boyfriend would make you buy something expensive. Notice it's strange.

Vicious door-to-door sales

A person visited me saying, "I've got a package for you." Opening the door, I saw a newspaper solicitor standing there. He persistently asked me to subscribe to the paper. He said, "I want to increase the number of subscribers. Tell me your name. You can cancel the contract any time. I didn't want to argue with him at night so I made a contract. " Such solicitors pretending to be staff members of telephone company or fire station visit persons living alone and come into the house. Before opening the door, you must ask them the reason for their visits. You must not be deceived by visitors' clothes or sales pitch and sign a contract.

Qualification business

Someone called me out of the blue and said, "If you take this course, you could get this qualification." I blurted out my address. Later, an agreement on the course and materials was sent. Vague answers cause trouble. A verbal promise may be valid. If you don't want to make a contract, you must say, "NO."

Specified Continuous Service Offers

I light-heartedly accepted a treatment at an esthetic clinic. Following that, the staff told me that I could sign a contract at a special price during the campaign period. I signed a one-year course contract, but the course didn't achieve the expected effect. I paid the one-year course fee in advance. I was told that I could not cancel the contract. Before signing a contract, confirm the content of the service, contract period, midterm cancellation policies, and payment method. It's better to avoid to pay a large amount of money in advance for a long-term service contract.


I occasionally used a link to my favorite entertainer's website placed on a free social network service website. One day, I directly received a message from the entertainer. Saying that he would like to exchange email with me on another website because he wanted to keep this a secret form his agent. He directed me to another website. I paid 2.6 million yen for buying points so as to exchange email with him. "
If you receive email saying "I am an entertainer or artist manager...,"  "I'll pay you if you solve my problem ...," "I want you to receive my money ...," "I want you to inherit a legacy...," "I want to give you money for saving tax...," caution is needed. Using consumer psychology, con men direct consumers to the website, let them use paid services for exchanging email, and make them pay money whenever they exchange email. If you think strange, before you pay money, feel free to consult with a local consumer center. (excerpt from the National Consumer Affairs Center of Japan website)


The cooling-off system protects consumers under the Law Concerning Specific Commercial Transactions and other laws. When you were unexpectedly forced to make a contract in door-to-door sales or complicated and high-risk contract in a pyramid scheme, you have the right to cancel unconditionally for a full refund during the specific period of time. In the Law Concerning Specific Commercial Transactions, cooling-off is possible in the transactions and during the periods noted below.

  • Door-to-door sales (including transactions in which con men approach potential victims on the street or call them on the phone in order to entice them to part with their money) -- within 8 days
  • Telemarketing con -- within 8 days
  • Specified continuous service offers from esthetic clinics, language schools, cram schools, tutors, computer schools, marriage agencies -- within 8 days
  • Multilevel marketing (pyramid finance scheme) -- within 20 days
  • Business opportunity related sales transactions (work-at-home scheme, decepting marketing involving a free trial or at a fat discount) -- within 20 days
  • Buying-at-home con (a con man visits a home and the person living there sells valuable items for an awfully low prices) -- within 8 days
  • Cases are subject to these regulations on and after February 21, 2013.

Cooling-off is not applied to mail-order.
In the case of buying-at-home con, the seller can refuse the delivery of the items he/she sold within the cooling-off period. The seller may terminate the contract from the date on which he/she received the contract or application whichever comes first.
If there are flaws in the form, even if the specified period has passed, cooling-off can be applied. Cooling-off can be applied to contracts on financial products or real estates. Cooling-off may not be applied to the aforementioned sales and transactions according to conditions. (Excerpt from the National Consumer Affairs Center of Japan website)
So when you are in trouble, contact the office noted below or the nearest consumer affairs center.

For additional information
National Consumer Affairs Center of Japan

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