Regulation  

Pimfa warns on 'flawed' Action Fraud revamp

Pimfa warns on 'flawed' Action Fraud revamp

Pimfa has highlighted the pitfalls of the government’s decision to revamp Action Fraud, the UK's national reporting centre for consumers to record fraud and cyber crime.

In a government plan published on July 27, the Home Office said it had provided £25m in funding to support Action Fraud, in order to “create capacity” to investigate more fraud, and to “improve the skills within the police to address it”.

It effectively wants to replace Action Fraud with an improved national fraud and cybercrime reporting system.

UK trade association Pimfa, which represents investment management and financial advice firms, argued the government’s focus on streamlining the reporting process ignored the lack of actual reporting which goes on in the UK.

Tim Fassam, Pimfa’s director of government relations and policy, said the government’s plans were “very welcome” but he continued: “While this has been long overdue, we know from the National Crime Agency itself, that the majority of victims of fraud do not report it despite the devastating impact it has on both their financial and mental wellbeing.

"Moreover, the government would not necessarily need to commit such resources to combating fraud if it took steps to ensure that online search engines and social media websites took greater responsibility for the content they publish.”

Pimfa is one of a number of organisations pushing for the government to expand the scope of content its Online Safety bill covers. 

One point of contention is the lack of regulation around paid-for online advertisements.

In May, the government announced measures to tackle some online scams in its Online Safety bill but stopped short of including fraud via advertising, emails or cloned websites.

Last week, the Treasury and Work and Pensions committees warned prime minister Boris Johnson the lack of regulation in this area would result in "potentially large financial losses to the public”.

After initial criticisms of the bill’s coverage, Johnson said at the Liaison Committee on July 7 he was “more than happy to look at it” if bodies felt it was “in some way inadequate”. 

But since then, the government has not made any changes to the bill on this front.

Pimfa is working alongside Which?, UK Finance, and The Money and Mental Health Policy Institute - to name just a few of the bodies also involved in putting pressure on the government.

They believe including online content such as paid-for adverts in the Online Safety bill “would prevent organised criminal groups from defrauding thousands of innocent people every year."

The trade body concluded: "We have argued that the most effective way to do this is through the Online Safety Bill. Fraud is the most prolific crime in Britain today, yet efforts to combat it have been woefully under-resourced for many years.”

ruby.hinchliffe@ft.com