The press release issued by the Home Office on 30 November 2023.
The UK government and some of the world’s biggest tech companies have agreed a series of pledges to protect the public from online fraud.
People across the UK will be better protected from online scams, fake adverts and romance fraud as the world’s biggest tech companies pledge to take additional action to block and remove fraudulent content from their sites.
With fraud being the most common crime in the UK, the government has joined forces with leading tech companies – Amazon, eBay, Facebook, Google, Instagram, LinkedIn, Match Group, Microsoft, Snapchat, TikTok, X (Twitter) and YouTube – to develop and commit to the Online Fraud Charter, the first agreement of its kind in the world.
Services have committed to bring in a raft of measures to help protect people from fraud and scam content when using their sites. Actions include verifying new advertisers and promptly removing any fraudulent content. There will also be increased levels of verification on peer-to-peer marketplaces, and people using online dating services will have the opportunity to prove they are who they say they are.
The charter will be supported by tough action to crack down on illegal adverts and ads for age-restricted products, such as alcohol or gambling, being seen by children. An action plan, agreed by the Online Advertising Taskforce, will be published today, setting out steps industry and government are taking to tackle harms and increase protections for children. This includes developing a base of evidence, improving information sharing and promoting industry best practice.
Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak said:
Fraud is now the most common crime in the UK, with online scammers targeting the most vulnerable in society.
We have already taken action to go after these unscrupulous criminals, launching our Fraud Strategy and deploying a National Fraud Squad made up of 400 dedicated officers, all backed by £400 million.
For the first time, we are beginning to see a drop in fraud cases, but we must do more.
By joining forces with these tech giants we will continue to crack down on fraudsters, making sure they have nowhere to hide online.
Home Secretary James Cleverly said:
The Online Fraud Charter is a big step forward in our efforts to protect the public from sophisticated, adaptable and highly organised criminals.
An agreement of this kind has never been done on this scale before and I am exceptionally pleased to see tech firms working with us to turn the tide against fraudsters.
Our work does not end here – I will continue to ensure we collaborate across government, and with law enforcement and the private sector, to ensure everyone in the UK is better protected from fraud.
Security Minister Tom Tugendhat said:
This is a very welcome commitment which has been created thanks to our close collaboration with some of the world’s biggest, and best, tech companies.
I have every confidence this charter will be an important step forward in our collective efforts to protect the public from fraud.
Creative Industries Minister John Whittingdale said:
Whether it’s fake celebrity endorsements or scam ads, we have a plan to shut down illegal online adverts putting people and their money at risk.
Created in partnership with industry through the Online Advertising Taskforce, our action plan published today sets out steps the sector and government are taking to help keep people safe and toughen up protections for children.
The Home Secretary and Anti-Fraud Champion Anthony Browne will met with senior representatives from these firms to sign the charter at Lancaster House this morning (30 November).
The agreement has come following extensive discussions between the government, the private sector and law enforcement, spearheaded by Security Minister Tom Tugendhat and Anti-Fraud Champion Anthony Browne.
In addition to clamping down on scam posts offering goods and services, each signatory has pledged to work closely with law enforcement in their efforts to target fraudsters.
The tech firms will also commit to running direct routes for law enforcement to report suspicious activity taking place on the services, making it easier to quickly identify and remove fraudulent content and protect users.
Fraud accounts for around 40% of all crime in England and Wales, with data from UK Finance showing almost 80% of all authorised pushed payment fraud originates from social media or a fake website.
Antony Walker, Deputy Chief Executive Officer of techUK said:
We are pleased to have worked at pace with the government in the development of the Online Fraud Charter which will improve the coordination of actions by tech firms to tackle online fraud.
The charter builds on measures that tech firms already have in place to defend against online fraud and will enable better and more consistent cooperation between the private sector, government and law enforcement.
The nature of online fraud is constantly evolving and tech companies are continually adapting and improving their approaches to combat this criminal activity.
Fraud is the most common crime in the UK, accounting for 40% of all crime in England and Wales. Last year, one in 17 reported being a victim of fraud, with over 3 million fraud incidents recorded.
Today’s announcement builds on government action already taken to tackle fraud, with the latest Crime Survey in England and Wales showing incidents of fraud fell by 13% in a year.
Martin Lewis, founder of MoneySavingExpert.com, 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 and deny these 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 2 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.
Temporary Assistant Commissioner Nik Adams, from City of London Police, said:
As the national lead police force for fraud, we welcome the Online Fraud Charter.
This charter goes further in supporting a whole system approach to effectively tackle fraud, by establishing a network of major online companies to join with law enforcement in helping to protect the public from criminals who would exploit them.
This charter has measures that will empower the public and increase their confidence in using online platforms, knowing that tech companies and policing are working to help keep them safe.
All signatories of the charter, which is a voluntary commitment, have pledged to implement the measures which apply to their companies within 6 months.
The United Kingdom will continue to take the global lead in the fight against fraud, with the Security Minister due to host a global summit in London in 2024.