Rise In Online Savings And Investment Scams | moneyfacts.co.uk

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Derin Clark

Derin Clark

Online Reporter
Published: 22/04/2021

Consumers are urged to be careful of online savings and investment adverts appearing at the top of Google search results as these may be being used by fraudsters to scam victims out of their hard-earned money.

Although the majority of adverts, known as Pay Per Click (PPC), that appear at the top of Google search results are genuine, fraudsters have increasingly been placing PPC adverts to trick consumers into transferring over funds or entering personal information. In fact, research carried out by UK Finance found that during 2020, £135.1m was lost through scams where criminals convince victims to move money into a fictitious fund or to pay for a fake investment. This was the highest increase in losses of any type of Authorised Push Payment (APP) fraud.

How to protect yourself from PPC scams

Although Google aims to reject fraudulent finance adverts from appearing on its search results page, these adverts are still getting through its vetting system. As a result, unsuspecting consumers may be clicking on adverts by scammers thinking they are clicking through to genuine investment or savings opportunities.

The adverts being run by scammers can look highly professional, but consumers should be cautious of any advert that advertises higher than normal saving rates, especially as rates are at record lows so even moderately good saving rates may be above the chart-topping rate. In addition to this, consumers should always check the small print to ensure that the company is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and should check the FCA register to confirm that the company is authorised.

In addition to PPC adverts appearing in Google search results, some websites also include PPC adverts. Again, consumers should be careful to check that what they are clicking through to is a genuine savings or investment opportunity, even if the advert is appearing on comparison websites. Alternatively, consumers should only click on links on trusted websites that are authorised by the FCA and that do not use PPC adverts. For example, Moneyfacts.co.uk, which is regulated by the FCA and has been operating for over 30 years, does not allow external PPC adverts, so consumers can be certain that all links go to authentic deals and providers.

Visit our savings charts, ISA charts, stocks and shares ISA chart, and investment pages to compare all savings and investment opportunities.

What is the industry doing to protect consumers?

Google is already attempting to clamp down on fraudulent PPC financial adverts, with the search engine introducing a 21-day verification process for businesses promoting financial products last July, during which time it can pause suspicious adverts. Despite this, scam adverts are still appearing on Google search result pages and campaigners are urging for more to be done to prevent consumers from being scammed.

One way campaigners are hoping to protect consumers is for scams to be included in the Online Harms Bill, which is due to pass through Parliament this year. If scams are added to the bill, it would mean that Google, along with other search engines and technology companies, would have a legal responsibility to prevent fraud on their platforms, such as by checking adverts to ensure that they are genuine before promoting them.

For more information on how to protect yourself from scams, read our story on how to avoid investment scams and the rise of finance scams.

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