Scams are everywhere and if you have been caught out by one already chance is you are a bit more aware of what to look out for. But did you know that as the government and regulators work hard to stop scams and protect us, the same cannot be said for some of the biggest tech companies out there. Unfortunately, there are not the same rules that govern advertising on television and radio on the internet. Because these companies are so large and the internet has been largely ungoverned for so long, it has provided a ripe breeding ground for criminals to target people and often companies are slow to act if at all.
An investigation by consumer advocacy group Which? Has revealed that Facebook and Google have failed to remove scam adverts even after victims have reported them. The study by Which? Reported that Google had failed to remove 34% of the scam adverts that were reported to them by members of the public and Facebook failed to remove 26%. Which? Also said that 15% of the people they surveyed had been caught out by scam adverts and reported it. Incredibly 43% of victims said they had not reported being the victim of a scam online and the main reasons where victims did not believe tech companies would act or they would get their money back. Which? Also stated that victims of scams from Google search engines did not report incidents as the reporting process was unclear and too hard to find. Which? Is calling for a better response of big tech companies in acting to remove scam adverts quickly so people are not victimised.
Which? Said: “The combination of inaction from online platforms when scam ads are reported, low reporting levels by scam victims and the ease with which advertisers can post new fraudulent adverts even after the original ad has been removed suggests that online platforms need to take a far more proactive approach to prevent fraudulent content from reaching potential victims in the first place.”
Which? Wants the government to step in to help protect people. They are asking that online platforms take legal responsibility to identify, remove and fraudulent content on sites. They have launched a free scam-alert service to warn consumers of the latest tactics used by fraudsters. You can check it out here: Scam Alerts | Which?
Social media scams are not always easy to spot. They look legitimate and are designed to fool you, they use real brand logos and when you click on them this sends your personal details to the scammer. When you click on them this also triggers the share feature so your social media contacts will also see the fake advert or post and could mean they click on the link too.
There are some simple steps you can take to avoid social media scams like inspecting the URL. If you check the URL against the company website URL you may see some slight differences, this means the page has been cloned and is a fake. If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is. If it offers a great deal or huge discount, check on the company’s website to see if they are actually advertising it. Finally, check the branding. If the logo looks different or is an older version or by clicking on the link it does not take you to their genuine page, then it’s fake and you should avoid it. You can learn more about how to spot a social media scam on Which? Where there is lots of helpful information about what to do if you fall victim to a social media scam: How to spot a social media scam – Which?