The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has received a number of complaints about an Australian e-commerce site suspending account users after they were flagged for “suspicious activity”.
The complaint was sent to the site’s owner by the consumer advocacy group, the Electronic Privacy Information Centre (EPIC), on December 16.
The complaint, sent to e-retailer Flipkart and registered to ecommerce company Shopify, says that an account was suspended after a user flagged a suspicious activity as a result of an “attempt to use malicious software to gain access to an account”.
The site then sent the user an email with a link to a page on the e-shop’s website.
The user then clicked on that link and went to a restricted page that blocked their account.
That restricted page led to a login page that led to an unauthorised access to the account.
After clicking on that, the user was redirected to an online shopping page, where they were asked to confirm their identity and password.
The company said in a statement that the account was reinstated “as soon as it is possible to provide evidence of the person’s identity and the reason for the suspension”.
A representative from Flipkarnet told the ABC that the user could have submitted the information on the restricted page to the Australian Cybercrime and Intellectual Property Crime Centre (ACIPEC), a government-run organisation that monitors online crime.
Flipkarte said that the company had taken the “appropriate action” after the customer contacted it.
The Australian Consumer Law Enforcement Agency has also taken a similar approach.
“We are aware of the report and are currently investigating,” the agency said in an email.
“The user who submitted the report to us could have done so by contacting us by calling 1800 1300 123.”
It said it was also investigating.
The account suspension appears to be a response to an earlier report that the site suspended accounts after users flagged suspicious activity to the ecommerce platform.
In that report, a user said that his account was temporarily suspended after he flagged a suspected hacking attack on his e-mail address.
“I noticed that there was a large number of users that had also logged in to their account and logged in without their passwords and without having their credentials in place,” he said.
The investigation has been ongoing since at least December 15.
Flipken said in its statement that it had notified the ACCC of the suspension.
The e-tailer did not specify what action was taken.
The ACCC is looking into a number issues with Flipkarts account suspension process.
The agency said it had received more than 2,200 complaints since it was created in November.
It said the number of accounts suspended had increased over the last year.
“It is not uncommon for customers to request to suspend their account, and we take the matter very seriously,” the ACCCP said in the statement.
Flipkext has suspended the account of another user for suspected identity theft and other breaches of the ACCPC’s code of conduct.
The site said it took “appropriate measures” to protect the privacy of its customers and had taken steps to protect against identity theft, fraud and spam.
“These steps include blocking access to our system and limiting access to accounts to a specific number of customers, which we have done to the extent we can,” Flipkast said.
“Customers can also request to have their accounts reinstated, and will be given a chance to do so.”