Online Safety Bill to include paid-for scam ads

Phil Brown, director of policy at B&CE, provider of The People’s Pension, said the amendments are a “huge step forward” in the battle against “ruthless criminals”.

“This is great news for all consumers but law makers and partner agencies must continue to remain one step ahead of fraudsters," he said.

The government has also launched a consultation on proposals to tighten the rules for the online advertising industry. This includes tougher rules and sanctions for harmful or misleading adverts, or those for illegal activities such as weapons sales.

Influencers failing to declare they have been paid to promote products on social media platforms could also be subject to stronger penalties.

Research by consumer group Which earlier this year estimated that 9mn people have been targeted by online scams.

The research found that four in 10 (43 per cent) of 2,119 consumers were dissatisfied with the protection from scams provided by social media platforms and search engines, more than double (20 per cent) the number who felt protected.

The research also showed that an increasing number of scams have surfaced amid the Covid pandemic, with 79 per cent of people having been targeted and 9 per cent falling prey to social media scams. 

This follows figures from the Office for National Statistics, which highlighted the increase in scams by 36 per cent when compared to pre pandemic levels.