Reports

Latest Aviva Fraud Report calls for Online Safety Bill to include financial scams

Woman making online purchase on a laptop
  • More than half of internet users (53%) don’t trust that the adverts on search engines are placed by a legitimate financial services company or provider
  • And more than half (56%) don’t believe that search engines verify the authenticity of the financial product, service, or provider that they allow to be advertised on their platform.
  • Almost nine in ten people (87%) think government should legislate to ensure search engines and social media sites do not mislead consumers or promote financial scams
  • Aviva calls on government to include financial scams promoted by paid-for adverts in the scope of the Online Safety Bill 

Aviva is calling for greater consumer protection from online financial fraud by urging government to include financial scams promoted by paid-for adverts in the scope of the Online Safety Bill.

The Aviva Fraud Report - which launched today and investigates fraud and financial scams relating to pensions, savings, investments, and insurance – has found consumers have low trust in the internet as a tool for shopping for financial services1.

More than half of internet users (53%) don’t trust that the adverts on search engines are placed by a legitimate financial services company or provider. And more than half (56%) don’t believe that search engines verify the authenticity of the financial product, service, or provider that they allow to be advertised on their platform.

Of those, there is a significant difference in trust by age. Those over 55 were much less likely to trust the results of a search engine than those aged 16 – 24; only 29% of over 55’s compared to 59% of 16–24 year olds.

Rob Lee, Director of Fraud Prevention at Aviva, said:There is a clear mistrust of financial services adverts online. However, there is no legal responsibility for technology firms to verify the legitimacy of the companies which pay them to publish adverts on their platforms. This potentially leaves millions of internet users exposed to unscrupulous adverts.”

"There is no legal responsibility for technology firms to verify the legitimacy of the companies which pay them to publish adverts on their platforms. This potentially leaves millions of internet users exposed to unscrupulous adverts."

Consumers are clear that more needs to be done to protect them from financial harm online. Almost nine in ten people surveyed (87%) think government should legislate to ensure search engines and social media sites do not mislead consumers or promote financial scams. And 85% of people think search engines should be responsible for advertising content on their platforms so that it is not misleading.

Rob continued: “We believe the Online Safety Bill presents an opportunity to protect financial services consumers at every stage of their online journey. We welcome the recent inclusion of user-generated fraud - such as that promoted on social media sites - within the scope of the regulatory framework. We support the financial services industry in calling for the legislation to include financial scams promoted by paid-for adverts.”

Covid has accelerated the need for action

"We believe the Online Safety Bill presents an opportunity to protect financial services consumers at every stage of their online journey."

Lockdown has transformed spending habits in the UK and accelerated adoption of the internet, with half (50%) of people saying they used the internet more – either significantly or a little - to search for products and services over the last year.

While the types of financial scams are generally the same as those before the pandemic, coronavirus has been used as the hook to lure victims. Being in lockdown has meant more people using the internet to search for, and buy, financial services and products.

Rob said: “The challenges posed by lockdown conditions has shifted the mindset of millions, opening the door to more people buying financial services and products online. While this brings opportunities for making it easier to buy products, it does also open the door to fraudsters looking to prey on the vulnerable.”

"Government must act quickly to protect more consumers from becoming the victim of online fraud."

The scale of fraud has accelerated through the coronavirus pandemic, which has resulted in a deluge of opportunities for fraudsters over the last year. Aviva’s research found two-in-five (42%) people have been targeted by a covid scam. This is a 91% increase over the last year in the number of people who reported receiving emails, texts, phone calls and other communications mentioning coronavirus, and which were suspected to be a financial scam.

Rob said: “It’s clear we’re a long way from the Government’s commitment to making the UK the safest place in the world to be online. The current online environment combined with challenging economic conditions and increased financial strain on consumers is creating the perfect storm for fraudsters to exploit the most vulnerable. Government must act quickly to protect more consumers from becoming the victim of online fraud, by ensuring financial scams are included in the Online Safety Bill.”  

Click here to download Aviva's latest Fraud Report.

-ENDS-

Sources

1 All figures, unless stated otherwise, are from Aviva’s research, conducted by Censuswide with a sample of 2,005 nationally representative respondents, between 30 June and 05 July 2021. Categorising the pandemic time frame between 1 March 2020 and 05 July 2021, and the pre-pandemic time frame categorised as 01 January 2019 and 28 February 2020. Censuswide abide by and employ members of the Market Research Society which is based on the ESOMAR principles.

Media Enquiries

Erik Nelson

Motor Insurance and Compensation Culture, Fraud and Data

Katy Hurren

Retirement

Notes to editors:

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