FCA warns Google to stop accepting scam adverts
UK regulator the Financial Conduct Authority has warned tech giant Google that it will take legal action if it continues to accept advertisements for online financial scams.
The scams, which have flourished during the pandemic, are also present on social media platforms which the FCA says it will also look into too.
MPs said firms such as Google were benefiting from online scammers, who paid for adverts, even as it also made money from regulators such as the FCA, which in response spent roughly £600,000 in 2020 to post its own anti-scam adverts.
The Financial Conduct Authority’s head of enforcement, Mark Steward, told the Treasury select committee on Monday that the UK had been blocked until recently from taking action against online platforms that failed to screen financial adverts to make sure they were approved by an FCA-authorised firm or individual.
Steward said: “It’s not immediately apparent whether social media were really aware of what this change actually meant. We’ve made them aware.
“We now have quite a lot of traction with the social media industry to force change,” he added. If firms fail to comply, “we will take action”.
Until recently, EU rules on financial adverts did not extend to online platforms such as Google. This allowed scammers to post the fraudulent adverts without going through checks.
The FCA’s newly regained powers could be another way of ensuring that online platforms are held to account for the proliferation of online scams.
A Google spokesperson said protecting consumers and legitimate financial services firms was a priority for the company.
“We have been working in consultation with the FCA for over a year to implement new measures and we are developing further restrictions to financial services advertising to tackle the scale of this issue,” they said.