Coalition of consumer groups, charities, policing leads and industry bodies welcomes recommendation by committee of MPs to include paid-for digital ads in Online Safety Bill and calls on Government to act

A coalition of consumer groups, charities, policing leads and financial services industry bodies, including Which?, UK Finance, Martin Lewis and MoneySavingExpert, the Personal Investment Management and Financial Advice Association (PIMFA), TheCityUK, the Investment Association, the Association of British Insurers and the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute, among many others* has today welcomed the recommendation by the Joint Committee on the Online Safety Bill that paid-for digital adverts be included within the scope of the Online Safety Bill.

Earlier this year research from Which?[1] found that the growing shift towards everyday tasks being carried out online following the onset of the pandemic has led to a devastating surge in scams.

Meanwhile Action Fraud[2] figures show in the year to November 2021 that 415,019 instances of fraud were reported at an estimated cost to victims of £2.2 billion causing huge financial and mental distress.

Following the recommendations published today by the Joint Committee on the Online Safety Bill the coalition commented:

?We welcome the Committee's call for paid-for scam advertising to be included in the scope of the draft Online Safety Bill, and we urge Government to act now. This will be vital in safeguarding the public from the epidemic of scams perpetrated by online criminal gangs.

?As a coalition of 14 of consumer groups, charities and industry bodies, our view remains that the Government's current proposed approach to tackling online fraud in the draft Bill is flawed. Including measures to combat user-generated fraud, whilst leaving fraud facilitated via paid for digital adverts out of scope will only lead to complex and muddled legislation, creating loopholes for criminals to exploit and a poor outcome for consumers.

?Fraudsters will be able to continue to exploit people online by posing as legitimate businesses or using fake celebrity endorsements to steal from the public. The coalition is by no means alone in this view. The FCA, Bank of England, City of London Police, Work and Pensions Committee and Treasury Committee have all called for fraud carried out via paid-for advertising to be brought in scope of the Bill.

?Fraud is far from a victimless crime. It is the most common criminal offence in the UK, and the majority of it is committed online. Victims of fraud can lose their entire life savings, which more often than not has a devastating impact on their mental and even physical health. Yet while life changing sums are being lost by victims, platforms are profiting from the paid-for content that facilitates this type of criminal activity.

?We have said time and again that the tactics used by scammers are now so sophisticated that anyone can fall victim to such criminal activity, losing huge sums of money that can be impossible to recoup. We call on the Government to accept the Joint Committee's recommendations to include paid-for digital advertising within the scope of the draft Bill and ensure the public are properly protected from this illegal activity.?



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Notes to editor

<ol><li class="x"><span style="tab-stops:list 36.0pt"><a href="…;
<li class="x"><span style="tab-stops:list 36.0pt"><a href="…;
</ol><p><strong>*Full list of 14 organisations that have signed the statement:</strong></p>
<ul><li class="x"><span style="tab-stops:list 36.0pt">Age UK</span></li>
<li class="x"><span style="tab-stops:list 36.0pt">The Association of British Insurers</span></li>
<li class="x"><span style="tab-stops:list 36.0pt">Carnegie UK Trust</span></li>
<li class="x"><span style="tab-stops:list 36.0pt">Innovate Finance</span></li>
<li class="x"><span style="tab-stops:list 36.0pt">James Thomson, Chair of the City of London Police Authority Board</span></li>
<li class="x"><span style="tab-stops:list 36.0pt">The Investment Association</span></li>
<li class="x"><span style="tab-stops:list 36.0pt">Money and Mental Health Policy Institute</span></li>
<li class="x"><span style="tab-stops:list 36.0pt">MoneySavingExpert</span></li>
<li class="x"><span style="tab-stops:list 36.0pt">Personal Investment Management & Financial Advice Association (PIMFA)</span></li>
<li class="x"><span style="tab-stops:list 36.0pt">B&CE Ltd, provider of the People?s Pension</span></li>
<li class="x"><span style="tab-stops:list 36.0pt">TheCityUK</span></li>
<li class="x"><span style="tab-stops:list 36.0pt">UK Finance</span></li>
<li class="x"><span style="tab-stops:list 36.0pt">Victim Support</span></li>
<li class="x">Which?</li>