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Google makes changes in clampdown on financial scams

Google makes changes in clampdown on financial scams

Google has made a move to clamp down on financial fraud appearing on its platforms by forcing all financial services advertisers to demonstrate they are authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority.

In a blog post, published today (June 30), the internet giant announced a “significant additional measure” to protect users and legitimate advertisers, and help prevent scammers exploiting its platforms. 

From August 30, the Google Ads financial products and services policy will be updated to introduce new certification requirements for financial services advertisers targeting the UK.

This means financial services advertisers will have to show they are authorised by the FCA or qualify for one of Google’s limited exemptions.

According to Google, this requirement covers financial services products both regulated by and not regulated by the FCA.

Advertisers must complete the updated verification process by the time enforcement begins on September 6 in order to show financial services ads to UK users.

According to Google, this update builds on “significant work” in partnership with the FCA over the past 18 months to help tackle this issue.

However, a number of products will be exempt from the policy, including cryptocurrencies, which are subject to Google's cryptocurrencies policy.

Growing pressure

Google and other internet giants have come under pressure recently to take action over scam advertisements appearing on their platforms, especially as Covid has seen fraud levels tick up.

Last month, the government announced measures to tackle some online scams in its latest Online Safety Bill, after an ongoing push from the industry over the past year but it stopped short of tackling fraud via advertising.

Its new version of the Online Safety Bill introduced in the Queen’s Speech (May 11) included financial fraud and user-generated online scams but not fraud via advertising, emails or cloned websites.

Stephen Timms, chairman of the Work and Pensions Committee, had previously raised concerns that the bill did not address the problem of online scams and said he was willing to step in to force change. 

Advisers also wrote to their MPs, asking them to urge the government to include financial harms in the bill.

In a debate in Westminster Hall back in April, Conservative MP Ruth  Edwards said there was a need for internet companies, including search engines and social media sites, to patch loopholes in their verification procedures and prevent scammers from using their platforms for illicit activity.

amy.austin@ft.com

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