Google offers FCA £2m advertising credits to fight scams

Google offers FCA £2m advertising credits to fight scams

Google has offered the Financial Conduct Authority $3m (£2.19m) worth of ad credits to help fight online scams and pledged a further $2m (£1.46m) in credits to support industry scam awareness campaigns.

In a letter to chairman of the Treasury Committee Mel Stride, in response to a request for further information on the policies in place to combat scams, Google’s director of trust and safety Amanda Storey said the firm would support the FCA on the most effective response and its future work in the area.

The request followed an earlier TC session and was sent to four tech giants, Google, Facebook, eBay and Amazon, and also asked for information on how much they had taken in advertising payments from public bodies, including the FCA, for its work to prevent scams. 

Google has offered the regulator $3m (£2.19m) in ad credits for use on its platforms to help amplify its message to protect consumers from scams and pledged a further $2m (£1.46m) in ad credits to support industry scam awareness campaigns, including the “Take Five” campaign run by UK Finance as well as the Advertising Standards Authority’s Scam Ads Alert scheme.

Storey added: “We are investing significantly in measures to prevent scams from taking place on our platforms and have worked closely with the FCA over the last 18 months to do so.”

An FCA spokesperson said: “The FCA remains in discussion with Google about its offer to provide ad credits to off-set the future spend by the FCA educating consumers about online harms, including through our ScamSmart campaign."

The spokesperson added the regulator was talking to a number of online search and social media companies about how they can protect their users from exposure to online financial harm, including that caused by the placement of unauthorised financial promotions.

"We also want to see investment fraud to be included in the Online Safety Bill so that consumers can be better protected from scammers and fraudulent advertising," they said.

Stride said with fraud cases rising rapidly, it was clear further action was needed to protect consumers online.

“As a committee, we’re calling for online technology companies to stop taking advertising pounds from these fraudsters – and to act to better protect their users as a matter of urgency.”

He added the committee was equally keen for the government to include fraudulent advertisements within the scope of the Online Safety Bill, something it has so far refused to do. 

“If these actions are not taken, then many thousands more innocent consumers will fall victim to these criminals,” he said.

In the letters, released on Friday (October 29) by the TC, Facebook's content policy director, Allison Lucas, said the FCA had not raised the issue of refunding advertising spend, and “should it arise, we will liaise with the FCA on the best way forward.”

She added it was exploring additional vetting of financial services advertisers in the UK, and was also liaising with the regulator on this.