Consumer advocates and financial organizations push for action against online fraud

Ten Organizations Urge Government to Ensure Fraud Is Tackled Through Online Security Bill (PA) (PA Wire)

Consumers cannot afford to wait for vital protections against online fraud, activists and financial services industry bodies warn.

Ten organisations, including Which?, MoneySavingExpert, the Association of British Insurers (ABI) and UK Finance, have joined forces to write a letter to Prime Minister Liz Truss, pressing for swift and effective action.

They are urging the Government to ensure fraud is tackled through the Online Safety Bill so that people are better protected from devastating financial and emotional harm.

Analysis of Action Fraud’s figures indicates that around £5 million is typically reported to be lost to scams every day.

And, since many scams go unreported, the true amount lost by victims is likely to be much higher, those behind the letter said.

Further delays in the bill will result in the continued perpetuation of online fraud, which will cost people, many of whom are already struggling with the very expensive cost of living crisis, devastating their lives and finances without possibility of repair.

Letter to Prime Minister Liz Truss

They added that there is the potential to stop millions of pounds worth of scams every year, by addressing the flood of online advertisements that scammers pay to scam people.

The letter says: “As a coalition of consumer groups, charities and financial services industry bodies, we are pleased to see protections against fraudulent advertising within the Online Safety Bill advance through Parliament in recent months and they are strengthened at every stage of the legislative process to ensure they can better address the most widespread form of online harm: fraud.

“We are pleased to hear your recent comments that the Online Safety Bill will return to Parliament this session.

“The unrelenting scale of the damage caused by online fraud, both through user-generated content and fraudulent advertising, and the speed at which the problem is growing, means that consumers cannot afford to wait for these vital protections.

“Further delays in the bill will result in the continued perpetuation of online fraud, costing people, many of whom are already struggling with the very expensive cost of living crisis, devastating their lives and finances. beyond repair.

“The Government, under your leadership, must commit to finding the quickest and most effective solution to protect UK citizens from falling victim to fraud, ideally by upholding this element in the Online Safety Bill through Parliament as soon as possible. soon as possible.

“This government has a unique opportunity to make the internet a safer place for British consumers and not just let this problem fall by the wayside.”

The letter is also supported by Carnegie UK, City of London Corporation, City of London Police Authority, Money and Mental Health Policy Institute (MMHPI), Personal Investment Management & Financial Advice Association (PIMFA) and TheCityUK.

The letter also highlights the cost of scams to people’s well-being, saying that in some cases, people have shown signs of serious emotional distress.

He says, “Which one? estimates the cost to welfare at £7.2 billion per year, while in 2021 Action Fraud received between 300 and 350 reports per week in which victims were showing signs of serious emotional distress due to the scam, with some needing to be taken care of. send emergency services to their homes.”

The letter adds: “The pandemic only increased the need for urgent action, leading to a huge increase in reported fraud cases, as fraudsters took advantage of emerging consumer vulnerabilities. The intensifying cost-of-living crisis now presents new opportunities for fraudsters to target hard-pressed consumers.”

A government spokesman said: “The government remains absolutely committed to cracking down on shameless fraudsters targeting the working British public.

“Our online safety bill will ensure that tech giants take tough action to prevent scams on their sites, with huge fines for those who fail to protect their users.

“The industry is working closely with law enforcement in the Online Fraud Steering Group to stamp out this terrible crime, and later this year we will publish a new strategy to address the threat of fraud.”

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