Money and Mental Health welcomes crucial changes to the Online Safety Bill to tackle scams ads
8 March 2022
Today the government has announced significant changes to the Online Safety Bill to protect people from scam adverts. The Bill will give social media platforms and search engines, like Google, Twitter and Facebook, a legal duty to prevent scam adverts from appearing on their services.
Money and Mental Health, along with a coalition of consumer groups, charities, policing leads and financial services industry bodies, have long been campaigning for the inclusion of scams and scam adverts in the Online Safety Bill.
Welcoming the announcement, Martin Lewis, founder of the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute and MoneySavingExpert.com, said:
“I am thankful the Government has listened to me and the huge numbers of other campaigners – across banks, insurers, consumer groups, charities, police and regulators – who’ve been desperate to ensure scam adverts are covered by the Online Safety Bill.
“We are amidst an epidemic of scam adverts. Scams don’t just destroy people’s finances – they hit their self-esteem, mental health and even leave some considering taking their own lives.
“The Government now accepting the principle that scam adverts need to be included, and that firms who are paid to publish adverts need to be responsible for them, is a crucial first step. Until now, only user-generated scams were covered – which risked pushing more scam ads, incentivising criminals to shift strategy.
“Yet the Bill is complex. We need to analyse and scrutinise this update – one of my concerns is it looks like display advertising that you see on third party websites is not within the scope of the Bill when it comes to scam adverts. But overall, the big picture is that this is good news and we need to work with Government, Parliament and all the other campaigners and experts to close down the hiding places or gaps scammers can exploit.”
Helen Undy, Chief Executive of the Money and Mental health Policy Institute, said:
“This is a big step forward in strengthening online protections, especially for people with mental health problems, who are three times more likely to have fallen victim to an online scam. It’s a big win for everyone who has campaigned for the government to act on online scams, including our Research Community members who have shared their experiences of scams and helped us campaign for change. We couldn’t have done this without your fantastic support.”
To set up an interview with Money and Mental Health spokespeople or for any other media enquiries, please contact Brian Semple, Head of External Affairs at Money and Mental Health, on 07595 439 638 / 07935 216 804 or [email protected]
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About the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute
The Money and Mental Health Policy Institute is an independent charity set up by Martin Lewis, and committed to breaking the link between financial difficulty and mental health problems. We conduct research, develop practical policy solutions and work in partnership with both those providing services and those using them to find what really works. www.moneyandmentalhealth.org