7 December 2021

Coalition of consumer groups, charities & industry bodies welcomes recommendation by committee of MPs to include paid-for digital ads in Online Safety Bill & 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 (14 December 2021) 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.”

NOTES TO EDITORS

1. https://press.which.co.uk/whichpressreleases/devastating-spike-in-scams-as-fraudsters-exploit-pandemic-and-online-shopping-surge-which-finds/

2.https://colpolice.maps.arcgis.com/apps/opsdashboard/index.html#/60499304565045b0bce05d2ca7e1e56c

*Full list of 14 organisations that have signed the statement:

• Age UK
• The Association of British Insurers
• Carnegie UK Trust
• Innovate Finance
• James Thomson, Chair of the City of London Police Authority Board
• The Investment Association
• Money and Mental Health Policy Institute
• MoneySavingExpert
• Personal Investment Management & Financial Advice Association (PIMFA)
• B&CE Ltd, provider of the People’s Pension
• TheCityUK
• UK Finance
• Victim Support
• Which?

About PIMFA – the Personal Investment Management & Financial Advice Association

  • PIMFA is the trade association for firms that provide investment management, investment services and advice to everyone from individuals and families to charities, pension funds, trusts and companies.
  • The sector currently looks after £1.65 trillion in private savings and investments and employs over 63,000 people.
  • PIMFA represents both full and associate member firms. Full members provide a range of financial solutions including financial advice, portfolio management, as well as investment and execution services. They assist everyone from individuals and families to charities and pension funds, all the way to trusts and companies.  Associate members provide professional services to the PIMFA community.
  • PIMFA leads the debate on policy and regulatory recommendations to ensure that the UK remains a global centre of excellence in the wealth management, investment advice and financial planning arena. Our mission is to create an optimal operating environment so that its member firms can focus on delivering the best service to clients, providing responsible stewardship for their long-term savings and investments.
  • PIMFA has made numerous recommendations to the FCA regarding the Future of Advice, the Future of Supervision, & the FSCS levy – read more.
  • PIMFA was created in 2017 as the outcome of a merger between the Association of Professional Financial Advisers (APFA) and the Wealth Management Association (WMA) with a history as a trade association since 1991 – read more.
  • Further information can be found at pimfa.co.uk

Contact

For further information on this release or other press matters please contact:

Matthew West, PIMFA PR Manager – MatthewW@pimfa.co.uk, +44 (0)20 7382 0376 / +44 (0) 7843 903258

Sheena Gillett, PIMFA Communications & PR Director – sheenag@pimfa.co.uk, +44 (0)20 7011 9869 / +44 (0)7979 493225