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New scam ad protection measures to be introduced by Facebook, Google and more – changes Martin Lewis has long called for

New scam ad protection measures, such as two-click reporting and verification for advertisers, are to be introduced by major tech firms including Facebook, Google and more. The move was welcomed by MoneySavingExpert.com founder Martin Lewis, who has long called for regulation and law changes to help stop online scams – though he cautioned that firms now need to "make good on their promises".

Online scam adverts have become increasingly sophisticated as digital technology has developed. Not only can they destroy people's finances, but they also have a devastating impact on their self-esteem and mental health, with some victims even considering taking their own lives.

Last month, the long-awaited Online Safety Act became law after years of campaigning by Martin, MoneySavingExpert.com (MSE) and many other consumer groups and charities. This new agreement, called the Online Fraud Charter (OFS), is not written into law. Instead, it's a voluntary commitment by a group of companies and platforms to take certain steps to fight online fraud.

For more help on how to avoid scams and what to do if you think you've been caught out, see our 30+ Ways to Stop Scams guide.

Martin: 'We'll be watching to check these companies make good on their promises' 

Martin Lewis, founder of MoneySavingExpert.com, and the most scammed face in the UK said: "We are in the midst of an epidemic of scams, which not only devastate people’s financial lives, but their mental health and sense of self-esteem too.

"I've long called for regulation and law changes to make these big tech firms step up to the plate – after all, they're the ones who have been paid by criminals to publish scams and they're the ones who can deny the scammers the oxygen of publicity. So I am pleased at the signing of this voluntary agreement, which is adopting many of the scam ad protection measures we've been calling for – such as two-click reporting, and advertiser and site destination verification.

"We will be watching closely to check these companies work hard, and work together to make good on their promises."

Social media sites and other online advertising platforms must implement new anti-fraud measures within six months

The following tech firms and platforms have signed the Charter: Amazon, eBay, Facebook, Google, Instagram, LinkedIn, Match Group (which runs online dating services including Hinge, Tinder and OkCupid), Microsoft, Snapchat, TikTok, X (formerly Twitter), and YouTube.

Here are some of the key measures that these firms have agreed to introduce and maintain – you can read the Charter in full on Gov.uk:

  • Detect and block fraudulent material from their sites. Firms must include a ban on fraud in their site rules and have effective methods of identifying and removing this material. Where a user has been removed from the site for fraud, firms must have processes in place to block them from making a new account.
  • Verify new advertisers to protect users from scam ads. As Martin has repeatedly pointed out, some of the biggest tech firms have profited from hosting scam ads on their sites. This measure will require firms to check that advertisers are legitimate.
  • Allow users to report scam ads and other fraudulent content in two clicks. There must be a "simple" mechanism to do this. The user flagging the fraudulent content must also be provided with information on how to report the incident to law enforcement and their bank. They must be advised on where they can get further support, preferably at the point of reporting.
  • Remove fraudulent content from the site immediately. Users suspected of posting, sending or sharing fraudulent content must face "appropriate and timely enforcement action". There must be a clear process in place to reinstate victims' accounts following fraud or hacking.
  • Screen adverts for suspicious content. Firms must also monitor URLs to see if they change during the lifecycle of an advert.

The Joint Fraud Taskforce, chaired by the UK Home Office Minister for Security, will hold the companies to account for delivering the actions. We've asked the Government what will happen if firms don't implement these changes within the six-month deadline given and we'll update this story when we know more.

The agreement will be reviewed in six months, following a consultation on the Online Safety Act.

If you think you've been scammed, here's what to do

Take the following steps:

  • If you've already responded to a scam, end all communication immediately.
  • Call your bank directly and cancel any recurring payments – or, for speed and ease, you can call the 159 hotline.
  • Report the scam to the police through Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040, or report a scam anonymously on the Action Fraud website. If you're in Scotland, report a scam through Advice Direct Scotland on 0808 164 6000 or on the Advice Direct Scotland website. You can also report scams to Police Scotland on 101.
  • If you need more help, contact the Citizens Advice helpline on 0808 223 1133 or via its website.

Here's how you can report a wide variety of scams quickly

The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) sets out a number of different ways to report scams depending on the type:

  • Emailed scams. If you get a dodgy looking email, you can report it to the NCSC by forwarding it to report@phishing.gov.uk. Remember not to click on any links within these emails.
  • Text scams. If you get a suspicious text message, you can forward it to the number 7726 – this will allow your provider to track the origin of the text and arrange to block or ban the sender if it's a scam. You can also report scam text messages to report@phishing.gov.uk – remember to provide a screenshot of the text message.
  • Website scams. If you notice a website or URL that doesn't look quite right, you can easily report the web page to the NCSC directly via its online form.
  • Scam adverts, including ads on newspaper websites, paid-for search engine ads, or ads appearing on social media. These can currently be reported to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) through its online form

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