Google aims to tackle online scammers with advertiser requirements

Google has announced it will introduce new certification requirements for UK financial service advertisers in an effort to fight financial fraud.

The tech giant, which has also joined Stop Scams UK, said the new requirements will need to be met after an update to the Google Ads financial products and services policy on 30th August, with enforcement beginning seven days later.

Financial service advertisers will need to demonstrate that they are authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) or qualify for one of the limited exemptions described in the UK Financial Services verification page.

Google said it had been working with the FCA for the last 18 months to receive notifications when updates were made to its warning list, while it has also aimed to update its policies based on feedback from the watchdog.

A statement Google said: “Globally, we have 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.

“We are committed to adapting and collaborating with industry and government organisations to lead on necessary changes to help fight evolving tactics by scammers.”

An FCA spokesperson commented: “We welcome all steps which protect consumers from scams and recognise that this is a positive move from Google. We will review the detail. We want to see continued and concerted efforts by all organisations with an interest in protecting consumers to achieve a sustained reduction in scams.

“It is important that all social media firms ensure that financial promotions using their services comply with UK law, and we expect all social media firms to ensure they are in compliance.”

The FCA spokesperson added that, while Google had made “an important step”, a permanent and consistent solution would require legislative action.

The spokesperson concluded: “We also continue to consider that investment fraud caused by online advertising should be included in the scope of the Online Safety Bill, and welcome the Treasury Committee’s recent statement on this. We will assess the outcome of Google’s decision once these changes take effect.”

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