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Scam ads ‘to be removed within 24 hours’

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The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), the main financial regulator, has pledged to take swift action on any fraudulent scams it discovers, ensuring that they are removed within a day.

Giving a speech on the rise in scams, Mark Steward, executive director of enforcement and market oversight at the FCA, said that the regulator had “ratcheted up” its approach to online scams, with the aim of capturing suspicious advertising within 24 hours of it first appearing.

He added: “We have also accelerated our assessment and processing of the daily haul and we have moved from responses within days to being able to issue warnings on the same day, 24 hours after, which is now happening in most cases.”

Steward also pointed to the regulator’s ‘warning list’, a section on its website which highlights firms which the FCA believes represent a threat to our financial wellbeing. 

He argued that it should work as an “essential component” in combating online scams, adding: “We need a force field against unauthorised businesses marketing bogus investment activity. And those regulated firms who let down their guard, especially in assisting firms on our warning list, may well face action from us for doing so as well.”

Bigger problems in tackling scams

Rocio Concha, director of policy and advocacy at Which?, said it was welcome that the regulator was taking a more proactive approach to tackling fraudulent adverts, but cautioned that its research had found few people have even heard of the FCA’s warning list, with little confidence in it among those that have.

She added that this approach from the regulator also doesn’t address the issue of online platforms failing to put enough barriers up to prevent the scams ever appearing in the first place.

She continued: “The government has now recognised that the major online platforms we interact with every day have a responsibility to protect their users from scams. The Online Safety Bill must give them a legal responsibility to prevent, identify and remove fake and fraudulent content on their sites – including the vast number of adverts and websites posted by fraudsters.”

The government has previously been criticised for its plans for the bill, as while it has the stated aim of keeping people safe online, it does not include online scams

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