It is, says the UK government, a world first. Eleven tech companies are to sign the Online Fraud Charter, committing to tackle online scams and fake adds affecting users.
The Online Fraud Charter delivers on a key pledge made in the government’s Fraud Strategy. This will be signed during a meeting chaired by the Home Secretary in London on 30 November.
The aim is to ensure that UK consumers are better protected from online scams, fake adverts and romance fraud. Specifically, the companies pledge to take additional action to block and remove fraudulent content from their sites.
There will be a raft of measures to help protect people from fraud and scam content when using their sites. Actions include verifying new advertisers and promptly removing any fraudulent content. There will also be increased levels of verification on peer-to-peer marketplaces. And users of online dating services will have the opportunity to prove they are who they say they are.
Action Plan agreed by the Online Advertising Taskforce
The charter will be supported by tough action to crack down on illegal adverts and ads for age-restricted products, such as alcohol or gambling, being seen by children. An Action Plan has been agreed by the Online Advertising Taskforce. It sets out steps industry and government are taking to tackle harms and increase protections for children. This includes developing a base of evidence, improving information sharing and promoting industry best practice.
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UK Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak said: “Fraud is now the most common crime in the UK, with online scammers targeting the most vulnerable in society. We have already taken action to go after these unscrupulous criminals. We are deploying a National Fraud Squad made up of 400 dedicated officers, all backed by £400m. For the first time, we are beginning to see a drop in fraud cases, but we must do more. By joining forces with these tech giants we continue to crack down on fraudsters, making sure they have nowhere to hide online.”
Signatories pledge to implement measures within 6 months
Home Secretary James Cleverly added: “An agreement of this kind has never been done on this scale before. I am exceptionally pleased to see tech firms working with us to turn the tide against fraudsters. Our work does not end here. I will continue to ensure we collaborate across government, and with law enforcement and the private sector, to ensure everyone in the UK is better protected from fraud.”
The Charter is a voluntary commitment. All signatories have pledged to implement the measures which apply to their companies within six months.
Among UK lenders, TSB has been notably vocal for several years in calling for social media companies to reduce the high levels of fraud that take place through their platforms.
In June, TSB said that fraud instigated on Meta accounts for 80% of fraud cases within its three biggest categories. It forecast that UK households could lose £250m to fraud on Meta platforms in 2023.
TSB believes that measures to remove scam investment adverts should be strengthened to include user-generated content. The bank’s data shows the vast majority of investment fraud currently takes place on social media platforms.
Paul Davis, Director of Fraud Prevention, TSB, said: “We’ve campaigned for years for tech companies to do far more to prevent the fraud that’s become rife on social media platforms.
“Now we have the Charter, it’s down to all signatories to match their commitment with meaningful concerted action. That is putting the right protections in place to reduce fraud and take responsibility to protect millions of consumers on their platforms.”