In recent years, scammers continue to deploy new fraudulent practices in order to take advantage of people. According to UK Finance’s latest figures, over £1.3 billion was stolen through fraud in 2021, up from £1.26 billion the year before.
To combat this concerning trend, Google continues to invest in teams, new policies and better enforcement capabilities. In 2021, we blocked or removed 58.9 million financial services bad ads globally to protect the advertising ecosystem.
Today, we are announcing a significant additional measure to protect both consumers and legitimate advertisers in the UK. The Google Ads Financial Products and Services policy will be updated to require that all advertisers be FCA (Financial Conduct Authority) authorised for debt adjusting and debt counselling in order to show debt services advertisements starting from 6 December 2022. Insolvency practitioners, including those licensed by a recognized professional body, will no longer be allowed to advertise for these services. Advertisers must successfully complete the updated verification process by the time enforcement begins on 16 January 2023. The policy update also allows advertisers that are included on the FCA Financial Services Register as ‘exempt professional firms’ or recognised investment exchanges to be verified as UK FCA-authorised advertisers.
Our financial services certification policy, launched initially in 2021, has led to a pronounced decline in reports of ads promoting financial scams, and has subsequently been rolled out across Google platforms in Australia, Singapore, Taiwan, Indonesia, India, Portugal, Brazil, France, Spain and Germany. A problem of this scale needs cross-industry effort, so we are pleased to see other tech companies now commit to introducing similar policies in the UK.
Today’s announcement builds on longstanding and robust financial products and services policies and engagement with industry in order to deliver a safer experience for users, publishers and advertisers.
In addition to ongoing policy reviews and updates, we continue to adapt and collaborate with industry and government organisations to tackle these evolving tactics by scammers. Last year, Google was the first major technology company to join Stop Scams UK, an industry-led collaboration of responsible businesses from across the banking, telecoms and technology sectors who have come together to develop best practices to stop scams at the source.
We also pledged $5 million in advertising credits to support public awareness campaigns in the UK, helping to ensure that consumers are better informed about how to spot the tactics of scammers both online and offline. We encourage businesses and consumers to refer to industry resources from trusted sources and Google partners including Stop Scams, UK Finance’s ‘Take 5’ campaign and the Advertising Standards Authority to stay up to date with the latest solutions we can all adopt to operate safely online.