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Google clamps down on financial scams

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Written by: Emma Lunn
30/06/2021
Financial firms advertising on Google will be required to demonstrate they are authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) or qualify for an exemption.

The Google Ads Financial Products and Services policy will be updated from 30 August to introduce this new certification requirement for financial services advertisers targeting the UK. Enforcement will begin seven days later on 6 September.

Advertisers must successfully complete the updated verification process by the time enforcement begins in order to show financial services ads to UK users.

According to Google, this requirement covers financial services products both regulated by and not regulated by the FCA. The search engine says this update builds on significant work in partnership with the FCA over the past 18 months to help tackle this issue.

Based on feedback from the FCA, Google has also updated policies, such as its ‘unreliable claims policy’. This update restricts the rates of return a firm can advertise and bans the use of terms that make unrealistic promises of large financial return with minimal risk, effort or investment.

Globally, the search engine has also introduced new advertiser identity verification which requires advertisers to submit personal legal identification, business incorporation documents or other information that proves who they are and the country in which they operate.

Rocio Concha, Which? director of policy and advocacy, said: “Our research has repeatedly exposed scam ads on Google that can have devastating financial and emotional consequences for victims – so it’s good that Google is recognising that it must take far greater responsibility for fraudulent adverts that lead to financial scams. Google must now introduce this measure without delay.

“The success of these changes will be judged by whether they stem the tide of scam adverts and will depend on Google effectively enforcing its policies to prevent fraudsters from luring in victims on its platform.

“To ensure the right protections are put in place for consumers, the government must urgently give online platforms, including search engines and social media companies, a legal responsibility to prevent, identify and remove fake and fraudulent content on their sites.”

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