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Updated: 25 Feb 2022

Government must include scam ads in the Online Safety Bill

See why a Which? campaign is calling on Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries to include scam ads in the Online Safety Bill.

Fraudsters are buying advertising space on online platforms and scamming us through fake ads. But those ads are explicitly excluded from the Online Platforms Bill that is due to be published in the Spring.

That's why Which? and a coalition of victims, campaigners, organisations and MPs have come together to ask the Department for Culture Media and Sport, and specifically it's head, Nadine Dorries, to make a simple change to the bill and include paid for online adverts.

As part of our #JustNotBuyingIt campaign to make tech giants take more responsibility, we drove a video van past Parliament and parked it outside the DCMS offices to make sure that the message got through loud and clear.

The van then toured around the London head offices of technology giants Google, Facebook and Twitter - all companies who have been failing to take action against scam adverts on their platforms. We just aren't buying it.

  • You can help support the campaign and put pressure on the Government by retweeting our video and tagging @NadineDorries with #StopOnlineScams

The harm caused by online scams

According to Which? research carried out in 2020, almost 1 in 10 of us have been scammed by fake ads on social media or a search engine.People are suffering emotional damage as well as losing life-changing sums to these scams. The problem is growing as fraudsters get smarter.

  • One victim told Which? they'd had almost £100,000 stolen after clicking on an online investment ad featuring fake celebrity endorsements.
  • Another lost £160,000 after clicking a fake ad for an 'Aviva' investment scheme.

Criminals are placing scam ads and cloning legitimate websites to create convincing fakes - our findings suggest that losses to clone investment scams average £45,000. And while victims are losing vast amounts of money, tech giants and social media are profiting from the ads that scammers are placing on their sites.

This is wrong. Tech giants and social media must be made to do more to stop online scams, and be made legally responsible for running checks on the ads they host. People should be able to go online without fear of being scammed.

The government wants the UK to be the safest place online, and since scam ads are the single most common cause of online scams, we must tackle the injustice now and include these in the Online Safety Bill.

That's why we are asking: Please Nadine, protect us online. Include scam ads in the Online Safety Bill and make tech giants and social media do more to stop online scams.