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Backlash over Government failure to stop online scams

MPs slam Government for failing to include financial scams in Online Safety Bill

MPs have slammed the Government for failing to include financial scams in the Online Safety Bill. 

Tory Mel Stride, chairman of the Treasury select committee, said it was ‘disappointing’ that Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden had ignored calls from banks, regulators, consumer groups and even the Bank of England to help put a stop to internet cons. 

The Treasury committee and the Work and Pensions committee, led by Labour MP Stephen Timms, have written to Prime Minister Boris Johnson warning that the Government’s inactivity risks ‘large financial losses to the public’. 

Lying in wait: The Online Safety Bill excludes the crucial issue of online financial fraud – an omission that campaigners believe is a serious mistake

The Online Safety Bill aims to tackle internet content that harms users, particularly children, and deal with issues of child safety, bullying and extremist content. 

But it excludes the crucial issue of online financial fraud – an omission that campaigners believe is a serious mistake. 

The issue has been highlighted by the Mail’s Stamp Out Investment Fraud campaign that calls for such scams to be included in the Online Safety Bill, and internet platforms legally responsible to check the adverts and websites they host are not fraudulent. Every month, Britons are being conned out of millions of pounds by falling for investment scams – often advertised on platforms such as Google, Bing and Facebook. 

Sometimes these adverts claim to be from a legitimate firm, like Aviva or Hargreaves Lansdown, while others pose as a professional-looking business but offer fraudulent investment products. 

This type of con has escalated during the pandemic, as more people have been trying to invest their money online. 

The number of cases reported to Action Fraud climbed to 20,989 in the year to April, up 50 per cent on the previous year, as savers said they lost a shocking £535m.

But so far, Dowden has refused to revisit the Bill. 

Stride said: ‘It is very disappointing that the Government has not yet chosen to include fraudulent advertising in the Online Safety Bill. 

‘Without decisive action, innocent consumers will continue to be defrauded on a large scale.’ Rocio Concha, director of policy at consumer group Which?, said: ‘The case for including fraud enabled via online advertising in the Online Safety Bill is overwhelming. The Government must not miss the opportunity to act now.’ 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk