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Euro MPs (MEPs) are due to vote on an amendment to the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive today which would crack down on telephone and internet scams.

If agreed, the amendments tabled by Euro MP Diana Wallis, "will make telephone prize scams and rogue internet trading illegal".

The Liberal Democrat MEP for Yorkshire and the Humber decided to act after receiving scores of letters from voters who have fallen victim to incessant and unwanted phone calls telling them they have won a prize.

Said Wallis: "When the number is rung back the caller is strung along for a premium phone call usually lasting several minutes, costing up to a hundred pounds. Many of these traders base themselves in another country, for example, in Ireland, to escape action.

"My amendment will help to get to grips with this both at home and abroad, by making this practice illegal."

Wallis is also trying to introduce new laws to protect ordinary punters trading online through auction sites such as eBay.

"There have been a number of instances of consumers misleading other consumers through websites such as eBay with vendors posing as a private seller or a seller's agent when they actually are acting as a business or trade," she said.

"As consumers, they fall outside the normal consumer protection legislation and so no redress is available. Again my amendment will cover this malpractice."

The changes were debated yesterday by Euro MPs and are expected to receive "overwhelming support", said Wallis. ®

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